Asda has reached an agreement with a private mental health hospital that enables patients to gain work experience at a local store.

The unpaid placements run over a two-week period, with patients working two-hour shifts per day with the supermarket chain.

They are provided with a uniform and designated a member of staff to work alongside.

Cygnet Health Care, which operates 17 hospitals across the UK, launched the scheme in its hospital in Bierley, West Yorkshire, last month.

One patient from the hospital has already completed their first week at a local Asda, doing two shifts per week, and said they were enjoying the opportunity. Another patient has expressed interest in the project, Cygnet said.

“This is one of many new initiatives we have developed to support our patients back into the workplace - we hope to announce similar positive outcomes with a number of other local employers,” said Cygnet therapy manager Mannie Dhanjal.

Hospital manager Julian Wenman added: “This is a fantastic opportunity for our patients and I hope this relationship may be rolled out in the longer term with other hospitals. It offers the patients involved the potential to leave us with employment references and the best possible chance in restarting their lives.”

Cygnet added that only patients who had been identified as suitable for the scheme and who would benefit from such a programme would participate.