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New social enterprise aims to clean up its community (March 2011)

Gofal has launched a second social enterpriseMental health charity Gofal has launched a second social enterprise, which aims to give voluntary and paid work opportunities to people who have experienced mental ill health.

PS Services was born out of the ‘Our Business’ project which was set up in 2009 by Gofal in partnership with Taff, Cadwyn, United Welsh and Cardiff Community Housing Associations. The project was supported through social housing management grant funding from the Welsh Assembly Government.

The aim of Our Business was to reach out to social housing tenants in Cardiff and engage and equip them with skills, confidence and psychological resilience to enter education training and employment opportunities and also to develop a sustainable social enterprise.

Since Our Business went live in October 2009, the project has taken over 90 referrals, developed its own confidence building course and people have been supported to access a range of education and training – including the Pacific Institute \’Steps\’ Programme.

Our Business Project Coordinator Steve Sparrow has been involved from the start. He commented:

‘One of the aims of the project has always been to develop a sustainable social enterprise. When we had the initial discussions about what a viable social enterprise could be, we were clear that we wanted to develop something that gave added value to our customers, and provide a service that offered informal welfare checks to vulnerable tenants from a friendly face.

We thought a cleaning and grounds maintenance business would be an ideal service to provide to tenants, and so, PS Services was born.’

PS Services stands for ‘People Space’ and aims to promote the mental wellbeing, confidence and self-esteem of those it employs, actively recruiting from the communities it serves.

Many studies have shown the benefits of work for people with a current or previous experience of a mental health problem. Work can serve as a source of achievement, satisfaction, and a boost to one’s self-esteem.

Steve Sparrow added:

‘We know that meaningful activity is a key component of a person\’s recovery from mental ill health, but also, we know that unemployment can have an adverse effect on people\’s mental health and wellbeing. With PS Services, we wanted to address the wider mental wellbeing agenda and be able to provide opportunities to those who didn’t necessarily have a diagnosed mental health condition, but who had been experiencing low confidence and self-esteem as a result of being unemployed for a long period of time.’

As well as voluntary opportunities, PS Services can also provide 6 month paid work placement opportunities thanks to an ESF Intermediate Labour Market contract secured via the WCVA. The contract allows work placement opportunities with each of the partner organisations, as well as other third sector organisations. The work placements are a great opportunity for those who are looking to develop their skills and get back into a working environment.

To date, PS Services has been offered contracts with three housing associations and has started taking over the cleaning duties for all of Gofal’s offices. As the business expands, more employment and work placement opportunities will be created.

For further information on the Our Business project, or the Social Enterprise PS Services, please contact Steve Sparrow on 02920 453840 or email p.s.services@gofal.org.uk

Gofal’s website is www.gofal.org.uk

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