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Sidekicks launches initiative to support those battling mental health issues back into work

A not-for-profit initiative, ‘Work to Recover’, run by Jessica Williams’ Sidekicks, an agenda-setting London support recruiter, is making noise in the world of work by helping those in recovery from mental illness re-enter the workplace.

The programme was designed by Williams for anyone in need of help - such as those suffering low self-esteem, dealing with long-term unemployment, those recovering from addictions, returning mothers with low confidence as a result of taking a long career break, members of the transgender community who have experienced discrimination at work, and those experiencing mental health problems.

Williams worked as a PA to various high-profile businesspeople for ten years before founding Sidekicks – a disruptive recruiter that challenges biased attitudes to hiring with industry-leading initiatives such as hiring pregnant staff, encouraging flexible working, and appearance/ gender/ethnicity blind shortlisting. ‘Work to Recover’, which has been running for almost a year, represents a further innovation from Sidekicks, who are quickly gaining a reputation as a unique recruiter with a strong sense of social responsibility. 

Williams explained, “Returning to work after a period of coping with intense mental pressure – for whatever reason – can be utterly terrifying. I’ve seen people close to me suffer terribly from low self-esteem and mental health issues, and the idea of being able to cope within a workplace environment can seem like an impossible dream.

“The shocking thing is that there’s no need for this to be a problem on such a large scale. Often, programme participants need very little from us in terms of practical support – a series of mentoring sessions coupled with interview and CV coaching can work wonders – and the results are unbelievable.

“We’re seeing people leaving us with the ability to stand on their own two feet and support themselves. I set up Work to Recover because I firmly believe that work can be vital in assisting and maintaining recovery from a wide range of mental health issues. Work to Recover aims to provide a bridge back to ‘normal life’ and be instrumental in rebuilding damaged confidence and self-esteem.”

‘Work to Recover’ is run by Williams and Gemma Rose Thomas, a qualified recovery coach, wellness specialist & holistic healthcare practitioner. It takes referrals from a number of charities such as Free Me, CARED and the Amy Winehouse Foundation.

Thomas said, “I joined ‘Work to Recover’ because I believe it is the single most important initiative around right now in terms of practically tackling a problem that is important, but unfashionable: how to help people battling with mental health issues get back into the workplace. One of the reasons that ‘Work to Recover’ is so effective is that we’re not a charity. We’re a privately funded, not-for profit initiative, which means that our remit can be very broad – we can help anyone who needs us, and we don’t have to turn away people who don’t ‘fit the mould’.” 

The ‘Work to Recover’ initiative provides:

•       Career Coaching on both a group and individual basis

•       Personalised interview training

•       Career change advice, guidance and support

•       CV and Cover Letter Workshops

·       Short-term placements/Internships

•       Identification of key strengths, specialist knowledge and transferable job skills

•       Personal drivers for purpose, ambition and happiness in work

•       Advice on building an online profile and self-marketing

•       Working on building confidence and self-esteem

The benefit to employers:

Sidekicks welcomes interest from employers interested in being involved as part of their Diversity & Inclusion strategies. The programme takes place across three months and works with Sidekicks’ most valued clients for whom corporate social responsibility is a real priority.  

Jill Marshall, managing director at Bloom, commented, “It is a pleasure to support Sidekicks’ ‘Work to Recover’ initiative. It’s good to be able to give something back to people who have been on a tough and often lonely journey and really need all the support they can get. Business isn’t just about making profit, it’s about improving people’s lives too and as business owners, we should all remember that.”


FREE ME & Sweet Cavanagh - Free Me is a London based charity that provides free care and support to women recovering from eating disorders and addictions. Free Me owns a jewellery brand and social enterprise, Sweet Cavanagh.

CARED – Coaching & Recovery for Eating Disorders -  A platform designed for ongoing outpatient support. CARED offers coaching programs and workshops for those who are returning from treatment, and for those who are living their daily lives with an eating disorders. CARED also focus on support the families and loved ones of anyone affected by eating disorders.

AMY WINEHOUSE FOUNDATION – The Amy Winehouse Foundation works to prevent the effects of drug and alcohol misuse on young people. They also aim to support, inform and inspire vulnerable and disadvantaged young people to help them reach their full potential.

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