Retired bank manager helping the vulnerable regain their confidence

By Tom Clements A RETIRED bank manager from �Saffron Walden has been using his expert �knowledge of the employment sector to help people who suffer from mental �illness get back to work.

Mike North traded in his role as manager of several branches of Barclays – after 27 years with the major bank – to take up part-time work at Employ-Ability, a charity that offers specific services to people who encounter barriers to employment.

He works alongside the community �mental health team based at Saffron �Walden Community Hospital to find work for people who have problems such as depression or anxiety, many of whom are unemployed as a result of their condition.

“The stigma of mental illness in both the workplace and society is still very �commonplace.

“It has improved over the last decade, but there is still a long way to go,” said Mr North.

“A big part of the recovery process is �getting them back into a structured routine and helping them achieve a sense of self-worth through work.

“Boosting self-esteem is fundamental. Although counselling and medication are helpful, we believe the most significant part of the recovery process is to give patients, who often have no structure in their day, a sense of purpose.”

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Employ-Ability was formed after a survey found a significant number of those with disabilities were facing barriers to employment.

The charity, which has a primary care contract to deliver its services across West Essex, has gone from a generic disability charity to dealing specifically in mental health.

Patients are referred to Mr North by their GP and Mr North aims to facilitate a mutually beneficial arrangement for both them and an employer.

“Many of my clients are highly skilled and are unfairly discriminated against because of their illness,” he said.

“Under the right guidance, I’m sure many of them would be huge assets to local companies and organisations.”

For more information about Employ-Ability call 07827 885926 or visit