Social firms: A means for building employment skills and community integration

School of Rehabilitation Therapy, Queen's University, Kingston, ON, Canada.
Work (Impact Factor: 0.52). 01/2012; 41(4):455-63. DOI: 10.3233/WOR-2012-1313
Source: PubMed


Social firms are widely used in Europe as a means of affirmatively creating employment opportunities and training for employment challenged groups. These commercial businesses produce, market and sell goods and services to the public while providing opportunities for productive engagement, increased incomes, and social integration for their employees.
This article presents a case study of a Norwegian social firm that was created to improve employment and functional outcomes for workers with mental health disabilities and addictions. The case illustrates one model of social firm, and is used as the foundation for discussion of the relative contributions of social firms to employment outcomes for people who are marginalized in the labour market.
The social firm represented a major change in philosophy and operations for mental health service provision in the local municipality. Numbers of individuals served increased dramatically, and changes were observed in the extent and nature of participant daily involvement, and in outcomes achieved. This model brings participants into contact with the public, and has served to break down barriers and reduce stigma.
Social firms represent a viable alternative for creating employment options and training and for enhancing social integration of people with mental health disabilities.

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    • "The primary social innovation of WISE is that they mediate gaps between mainstream employment services and the open labour market for particular social groups, thereby contributing to a more equitable and just employment system . There is a growing literature that suggests that, at the individual level, WISE are effective at increasing the latent benefits of employment (Jahoda, 1982), including increased self-efficacy, self-esteem and social relationships, for specific social groups such as newly arrived migrants and refugees (Barraket, 2013), people with a disability (Warner and Mandiberg, 2006), homeless young people (Ferguson and Xie, 2008) and people with mental illnesses and addictions (Krupa et al., 2003; Lysaght et al., 2012). WISE have been found to allow for design of work settings that are responsive to the needs—such as language, childcare support, task structuring, and wrap-around support —of particular social groups (Krupa et al., 2003; Ho and Chan, 2010; Lysaght et al., 2012; Barraket, 2013). "
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    ABSTRACT: The role of social innovations in transforming the lives of individuals and communities has been a source of popular attention in recent years. This article systematically reviews the available evidence of the relationship between social innovation and its promotion of health equity. Guided by Fair Foundations: The VicHealth framework for health equity and examining four types of social innovation—social movements, service-related social innovations, social enterprise and digital social innovations—we find a growing literature on social innovation activities, but inconsistent evaluative evidence of their impacts on health equities, particularly at the socio-economic, political and cultural level of the framework. Distinctive characteristics of social innovations related to the promotion of health equity include the mobilization of latent or unrealised value through new combinations of (social, cultural and material) resources; growing bridging social capital and purposeful approaches to linking individual knowledge and experience to institutional change. These have implications for health promotion practice and for research about social innovation and health equity.
    Health Promotion International 09/2015; 30(Supp 2):ii116-ii125. DOI:10.1093/heapro/dav076 · 1.94 Impact Factor
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    • "Four of the five studies focused upon a specific type of social enterprise known variously as a social firm, an affirmative business, or a Work Integration Social Enterprise (WISE). All of these terms relate to a specific type of social enterprise that has workforce development and/or job creation for disadvantaged populations as its core purpose (Krupa et al., 2003; Lysaght et al., 2012; Spear and Bidet, 2005; Vidal, 2005; Warner and Mandiberg, 2006) and may also combine a mission to address social exclusion (Teasdale, 2010, 2012) with providing a product or service needed by society (Ferguson, 2012). "
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    ABSTRACT: In recent years civil society organisations, associations, institutions and groups have become increasingly involved at various levels in the governance of healthcare systems around the world. In the UK, particularly in the context of recent reform of the National Health Service in England, social enterprise – that part of the third sector engaged in trading – has come to the fore as a potential model of state-sponsored healthcare delivery. However, to date, there has been no review of evidence on the outcomes of social enterprise involvement in healthcare, nor in the ability of social enterprise to address health inequalities more widely through action on the social determinants of health. Following the development of an initial conceptual model, this systematic review identifies and synthesises evidence from published empirical research on the impact of social enterprise activity on health outcomes and their social determinants. Ten health and social science databases were searched with no date delimiters set. Inclusion and exclusion criteria were applied prior to data extraction and quality appraisal. Heterogeneity in the outcomes assessed precluded meta-analysis/meta-synthesis and so the results are therefore presented in narrative form. Five studies met the inclusion criteria. The included studies provide limited evidence that social enterprise activity can impact positively on mental health, self-reliance/esteem and health behaviours, reduce stigmatization and build social capital, all of which can contribute to overall health and well-being. No empirical research was identified that examined social enterprise as an alternative mode of healthcare delivery. Due to the limited evidence available, we discuss the relationship between the evidence found and other literature not included in the review. There is a clear need for research to better understand and evidence causal mechanisms and to explore the impact of social enterprise activity, and wider civil society actors, upon a range of intermediate and long-term public health outcomes.
    Social Science & Medicine 12/2014; 2014. DOI:10.1016/j.socscimed.2014.07.031 · 2.89 Impact Factor

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