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Proving The Value Of Social Firms

The USP of Social Firms is that they create jobs for people severely disadvantaged in the labour market. We’ve always believed in this sector that work within the right supportive environment can help people to stay well, leading to reduced use of acute mental health services for example. But knowing this and proving this health gain are completely different and does present a challenge to the Social Firm sector.

conference workshopSocial Firms UK and some of its members would really like to explore how to come up with a framework, or tool, by which individual Social Firms can measure the health gain on individual employees so that we, collectively as a sector, can prove how Social Firms make a difference. A workshop was held in June 2006 at the annual conference on how we might go about starting to evidence health gain and the notes here reflect the findings of that workshop. The challenge now is to secure the funding to enable the necessary research to take place…watch this space! Below are some interesting reports:

  • Proving The Value Of Social Firms: Article In Social Firms UK Annual Conference Brochure 2008
  • Evidencing Health Gain Within The Social Firm Sector
  • REDF 2005 Social Impact Report
  • Is Work Good For Your Health & Wellbeing?
  • Excellent Results For Social Firms & Social Return On Investment
  • Case Study: Pembrokeshire FRAME
  • Tools To Help You Start Proving The Case
  • Performance Dashboard
  • Courses on Social Return On Investment
  • Your Views & Experiences
    Revenue cartoon

  • Proving The Value Of Social Firms (Author: Richard Neville www.richardneville.org)
This article appeared in the 2008 Social Firms UK Annual Conference Souvenir Brochure. It suggests that for each year that employment in Social Firms is sustained at the current level, the annual benefit saving alone to the Exchequer is £6.4 million.

This report is based on the results from a workshop held at the Social Firms UK Conference in June 2006.

  • REDF 2005 Social Impact Report

While we are in the early stages of trying to monitor the impact of the Social Firm sector, our colleagues in the USA (REDF) have shared their social impact report from 2005. They monitored 900 individuals altogether, 47% of whom had mental health problems, and have clearly illustrated the value that their ‘employment enterprises’ bring to these individuals. This report can be downloaded from the Social Firms UK Resource Centre.

  • Is Work Good For Your Health & Well-Being? (G. Waddell & A. K. Burton, on behalf of DWP, DoH, HSE)

While we in the Social Firm sector have always believed that working is good for your health and well-being, here we have the evidence! This is a 'review of reviews', drawn together by Gordon Waddell and A. Kim Burton, and while there are certain provisos attached to this overall conclusion (e.g. depends on the quality of the job etc.), and some statistical/evidential gaps, it gives everybody a good basis on which to move forward. As far as Social Firms UK is concerned, our development of the Values-Based Checklist links strategically to the outcomes of this research review. As one of the research gaps is around evidencing health gain on re-entry to employment we are keener than every to try and move this bit of work forward. Visit www.health-and-work.gov.uk to view this report or download the executive summary here.

  • Excellent Results For Social Firms And Social Return On Investment

In 2005 Social Firms UK and NEF worked together to carry out two SROI case studies on Social Firms. The two Social Firms picked were Pack-IT in Cardiff (that has employees with learning disabilities) and MillRace IT (that has employees and trainees with mental health problems). A full guide to carrying out SROI is in the Resource Centre, but the individual case studies are available separately below. We think more Social Firms should carry out an SROI excercise on their businesses as the results are phenomenal!

The projected SROI ratio for Pack-IT is 1.9:1. Thus, for every £1 invested, £1.90 of social value is created for each year for society in terms of reduced welfare costs and increased local purchasing. Although availability of comparable data for other Social Firms is limited, any return greater than 1:1 is a good result and argues for further investment. Read the full case study here for Pack-IT's SROI.

The projected SROI ratio for MillRace IT is 7.4:1. Thus, for every £1 invested, £7.40 of social value is created each year for society in terms of reduced health care costs, reduced benefit costs, and increased taxes collected. However, there are a number of other benefits, such as increased self-confidence of those recovering from mental ill-health that are not included in the analysis, suggesting that the social return calculations are likely to underestimate the true social value created by MillRace IT. Read the full case study here for MillRace IT's SROI.

Social Firm, Pembrokeshire FRAME, was recently highly commended by the Social Audit Network as an example of good practice in terms of social accounting. Click on the title above to view this case study.

  • Tools To Help You Start 'Proving The Case'

If you provide training or employment/work experience opportunities to disabled people (including those with mental health problems), it could be worth considering implementation of a 'distance travelled questionnaire'. Social Firms UK has adapted one for use in the Social Firm sector. If applied on a regular basis then you can start proving what difference you are making to people's lives. It can of course be adapted for your own purposes. Similarly, if people come to you for training, then an Individual Learning Plan (ILP) might be useful.

  • Performance Dashboard

On a bigger scale, Social Firms UK has developed a performance management tool called the Performance Dashboard. Information on this and other impact evaluation tools are on our Impact Measurement page.

  • Courses On Social Return On Investment
One of the major challenges facing social enterprises today is communicating the social benefits they deliver. As opportunities increase for social enterprise to engage with private and public sector organisations and new opportunities for work arise, it has become necessary to find ways of translating this positive effect into demonstrable data. Those social enterprises that cannot articulate the non-monetary value they bring are likely to find it increasingly difficult to secure funding and work. Social Enterprise London runs occasional courses on 'social impact measurement for local economies'. For more information see their website at www.sel.org.uk/social_auditing.html


  • Your Views & Experiences

We're always keen to hear examples of how Social Firms and emerging Social Firms prove their value - let us know if you've got anything you wish to share with others.

Evidencing Health Gain Within The Social Firm Sector
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Establishing Health Gain Within The Social Firm Sector

Is Work Good For Your Health & Well-Being? Executive Summary
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Is Work Good For Your Health & Well-Being?

MillRace IT SROI Case Study
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MillRace IT SROI Case Study

Pack-IT SROI Case Study
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Pack-IT SROI Case Study

EMP Sample Distance Travelled
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EMP Sample Distance Travelled

Trainee Template Individual Learning Plan
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Trainee Template Individual Learning Plan

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