Sniffer dogs are helping long-term unemployed people recovering from ill health to get back to work.

The unusual partnership has seen Chester-based IEDS Ltd team up with North Wales Training from the Deeside Industrial Estate.

North Wales Training is delivering the Government’s Work Programme on behalf of JobFit, which helps long-term unemployed people back into work through a tailored package of help and support.

IEDS is involved in providing services involving specialist sniffer dogs.

The two firms have come together to share expertise in piloting a dedicated training programme for clients suffering with mental health conditions.

Mark Davies from North Wales Training said: “We worked with IEDS to devise a course for individuals who suffer with mental health conditions such as depression and anxiety with the goal of building their confidence and feeling more motivated about finding and getting a job.

“Independent studies have identified the benefits of working with animals and recognise how it can help with some of the challenges people with mental health conditions face.

“The six week pilot course has been offered to 12 of our customers who are involved in walking, grooming and generally looking after the dogs.

“So far the outcome of the programme seems to be very positive with some great attendance figures and really encouraging comments.”

Mia Tan, director of IEDS Ltd, said: “North Wales Training customers work with our sniffer dogs in canine care and basic obedience, which provides an insight into training with search dogs.

“Dogs are known for their empathy with people and we harness their drive to work in a team to provide powerful therapy to help people from diverse backgrounds to improve their self-esteem and confidence.

“It is fantastic to watch people grow and regain their mojo. Going back to work after a period of ill health can be daunting and we are so proud of each one of our customers who have worked hard to succeed in their own personal growth.”

Each delegate also gains from personal life coaching Mia includes in personal development training.