Trading activities and access to meaningful work
The social enteprise sector has a good track record of enabling employment opportunities for individuals from disadvantaged communities, with many having such a motive at the heart of their mission. As well as the obvious impact on individuals' financial sitiatuion, the opportunity to participate in 'meaningful work' has a well reported positive correlation with helping to cope with or recover from mental health challenges.
Throughout our work on the 'Enterprise Development Programme' in the mental health sector, we've been keen to further understand the opportunity for Mental Health Providers with trading-based income to offer access to meaningful work to those with mental health needs. In turn, the Association appointed the Centre for Charity Effectiveness (CCE), part of Bayes Business School (formerly Cass) to undertake a research project to gain greater insight to impact of such initiatives and also practicalities of making them a success - you can read this here.
We're pleased to be able to now publish this research which takes a deep-dive on six organisations who have strong commitments to supporting individuals with mental health needs through active roles in their trading activities. It looks at how organisations built up their trading activities, and provides insight into the financial, commercial and operational challenges they have they have faced. It importantly also shares what organisations have learned about employing people with mental health problems, what benefits they believe that people with mental health problems derive from the work they do, and the lessons organisations can offer others from their experiences.
The research adds clear support to the role of meaningful work in improving mental health, but also importantly highlights there is no ‘one size fits all’ in terms of the approach needed to effectively involve individuals. Firstly, the participating providers show there's a diveristy of business types and job roles that can effectively host such employment opportunities (e.g. from Horticultural actitivities to 'Experts by Experience' consultancy). It gives insight to the approaches taken to supporting the variety of individual's mental health needs, but encouragingly highlights that organisation's commonly look to utilise the many strengths / assets that individuals have to offer.
In the coming months, we plan to share a series of short films, which a important insight into the perspective of people who participate in such trading and enterprises activities, and have felt the benefit in their mental health.