Anchor ambition

Our award-winning Anchor Ambition project focuses on moving people living in Mid and South Essex who are unemployed or economically inactive, towards work in the NHS or wider Healthcare sector.

We can help you to

If you are interested in finding work in the NHS, we can help you to:

  • Personalised one-to-one support
  • advice and guidance about suitable roles
  • job matching
  • help with online applications
  • mock interviews and interview preparation
  • access to the Trust’s online training modules.

Award-winners: healthcare employment support programme bags national prize

Parliamentary Awards 2023

A scheme that helps residents to start work and gain skills in healthcare has won a national award following its nomination by local Members of Parliament.

The Anchor Ambition programme, run by Mid and South Essex NHS Foundation Trust, has won the national Health Equalities prize in the NHS Parliamentary Awards. This recognises organisations who have helped to reduce inequalities in healthcare and prevent ill health in their community.

The Anchor programme provides training, skills and help for eligible local people applying to jobs in the NHS and healthcare across mid and south Essex. Participants receive personal and intensive support designed to help them secure work that works for them.

The NHS Parliamentary Awards are an annual event where MPs nominate local teams and individuals from across the NHS in a variety of categories. The awards were announced at a ceremony in Westminster on 5 July, the same day as the NHS’s 75th birthday.

Kevin Garrod, Anchor Programme manager at Mid and South Essex NHS Foundation Trust, said: “At the heart of the anchor programme is supporting people who never thought that the NHS was a place for them to work and thrive. The aspiration of this programme is shared with the ambitions of the NHS Workforce Plan, to widen participation and create opportunities for all our communities.”

The scheme has successfully helped those not supported by traditional recruitment programmes, including older workers, those with a disability, and lone parents. This helps local people while also filling much-needed jobs in local healthcare.

Anchor Ambition began in Southend, where in its first year it supported 166 people into work, helping 625 in total. The programme has since expanded to benefit communities across mid and south Essex. An event was held at the Basildon Advice Store in June, attended by over 50 people who registered to receive personalised support.

The scheme was originally nominated by MPs Sir James Duddridge, Rebecca Harris, and Priti Patel.

Sir James Duddridge KCMG, MP for Rochford and Southend East, said: “I am delighted that the team behind the Anchor Ambition programme has been recognised for their hard work in tackling health inequalities and helping to provide brand new employment opportunities in the health and care sector for local residents.”

Rebecca Harris, MP for Castle Point, said: “I am very pleased that the hard work of the trust to get more local people the skills and experience they need to support their community through a rewarding career in healthcare. They really have gone the extra mile and I sincerely hope other trusts adopt their award-winning model.”

Dame Priti Patel, MP for Witham said: “I would like to extend my congratulations to the Southend Anchor Ambition programme on winning the Health Equalities category at the NHS Parliamentary Awards ceremony.

“The Anchor Ambition Programme did a fantastic job in helping the NHS by bringing together different groups and organisations to reduce health inequalities and prevent ill health in their communities, and this award is very much deserved by everyone in the team who has worked hard to deliver this.”

The programme was awarded first prize along with Homelessness Health in Somerset.

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Inclusive employment

This dedicated employment support project is available to those who have, had, or are about to receive hospital-led care (MSENHSFT) and that:

  • have had to stop work because of their treatment, or the wait for treatment, and now wish to return to work 
  • who may or will have to change their work because of their treatment or the wait for treatment and now wish to return to work, and  
  • where a family member has had to give up work to take on a temporary caring role and now wishes to return to work 

The pilot will provide intensive, dedicated and individual, in person, support. That support will enable participants to make high quality and ultimately, we hope successful applications for work including in the NHS or healthcare sectors, and feature: 

  • initial in-depth profiling identifying; skills, strengths and experience and development areas
  • ensuring that any job search works with participant’s employment preferences and goals matching skills to available work and minimising retention risks
  • working intensively with job seekers to develop and submit their applications, including personal statements
  • providing interview preparedness, coaching and participating in constructive feedback if the candidacy is unsuccessful
  • collaboration with Job Centre Plus and its national programmes, enabling appropriate disclosure i.e. hidden impairment and specialist resources to flow toward the participants
  • work incentives support planning includes the impact on income (benefits) and the costs associated with starting employment and obtaining childcare

As an addition, and in order to complement the work, the Anchor Ambition project has secured investment to provide a strictly limited number of paid work placement opportunities across our Trust.

We hope that these short-term opportunities will support people who:

  • will benefit from the opportunity to add to their CV or experience and as result secure work, including with Mid and South Essex Foundation Trust or in the healthcare sector
  • will benefit from the opportunity to rebuild their workplace confidence following a sustained absence from employment
  • need help and support to develop their access to work rights, entitlements, and reasonable adjustments

To find out more, or if you may be eligible for support, please email

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