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.
Social 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:
This report is based on the results from a workshop held at the Social Firms UK Conference in June 2006.
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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
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
Is Work Good For Your Health & Well-Being? Executive Summary
MillRace IT SROI Case Study
Pack-IT SROI Case Study
EMP Sample Distance Travelled
Trainee Template Individual Learning Plan
Proving The Value Of Social Firms