Place Category: Employment
Elite Supported Employment is a leading supported employment provider with over two decades of experience in empowering people with disabilities and those facing disadvantage into work.
We deliver services across South, Mid and West Wales assisting jobseekers, aged 14 – 65+ and employers through our specialised projects.
We support hundreds of people every year with vocational opportunities, training and employment. We believe anyone can work, irrespective of their disability, given the right training and support.
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Social Impact Statements
The Social Enterprise Mark criteria includes a requirement that the applicant can demonstrate that social and/or environmental objectives are being achieved.
In support of this, new applicants and renewing Mark holders are asked to respond to a set of social impact questions, which are designed to help them think about the social impact they create, and to articulate this clearly and succinctly.
Updated July 2021
1) What are the main social differences you have aimed to make (or supported)?
We tackle inequality in employment, enabling disabled people and those that are disadvantaged to gain employment, vocational training and volunteering opportunities, to aid the quality of their lifestyles.
The social improvements we strive to achieve include:
- Improved equality of opportunity in relation to disabled people and those experiencing disadvantage to gain jobs in their communities, working with employers to achieve Disability Confident Status, due to our organisation holding the Disability Confident Leader status.
- Independence for disabled and disadvantaged people, providing travel training so that they can use public transport or walk to areas in their community, aid their financial status to reduce their dependence on welfare benefits. Through employment enable them to become less reliant on social services and health, as employment and volunteering impact positively on their general health and mental wellbeing.
- Enable more integration of disabled people in their communities, raising their confidence, self-esteem, contributions to their communities and respect for what they can do, rather than what they can’t, through our “Can Do” principles.
- By increasing the independence and abilities of disabled and disadvantaged people, we are aiding them to support the sustainability of their local communities, through the use of community facilities, increased direct spending in their local communities, often with local retailers, third sector organisations and SME’s, along with local authority facilities, such as libraries and sports centres.
- Teaching people about sustainable resourcing, from recycling, reuse and reduced use of water, lighting, fuel, paper, plastics etc., which has also aided people’s finances.
Our overall aim has been to tackle inequality in relation to employment opportunities, supporting disabled and disadvantaged people to become local employees, through our social enterprise’s intermediate labour market philosophies, our one to one support to people in open employment, plus our support to employers in relation to enabling and sustaining a more diverse workforce, through Disability Awareness Training to their teams, Policy advice and Disability Confident status.
We have also utilised these methods, working with Welsh Government and the Wales TUC, to influence Welsh Government Policy, for example creating Supported Apprenticeships, aiding an increase in the number of disabled people accessing Apprenticeships, to the introduction of Supported Internships in Wales. We have also worked closely with Foundational Economy colleagues in Wales to increase Public body spend in social enterprise and with SME’s to aid the local economy, via improved procurement, recognising the value of social spend. We’ve also worked with a range of Private and Third Sector organisations, in relation to increase their social spend and including all of the above in their corporate social responsibilities.
2) What actions have you taken to deliver the aims described above?
- Employment, vocational training and volunteering opportunities to disabled or disadvantaged people, supporting them on a one to one person centred basis.
- A confidential document destruction, scanning and document archive service, where 100% of destructed paper is recycled and 100% of cardboard is reused. This service creates employment, training, work experience and volunteering services for 80+ disabled or disadvantaged people each week.
- A garment manufacturing service to the Public, Private and Third Sector in Wales, enabling the resurrection of this type of industry and jobs in Wales, providing trained staff to local manufacturers and the creation of employment, training and volunteering for local people.
Increased individuals’ level of social integration and independence through specific person centred training, e.g. use of public transport, enabling them to travel and use facilities in their spare time, meet friends etc., which has improved the quality of their lives.
Support and training to employers in relation to their recruitment and retention of disabled and disadvantaged staff.
- Work with Welsh Government, Wales TUC and DWP to influence, aid and improve employment opportunities for disabled and disadvantaged people in Wales.
- Worked collaboratively with other social enterprises and SME’s to replicate our model of work across Wales, which has also enabled the tendering and achievement of shared contracts across Wales to the Public Sector.
3) What has changed, what specific outcomes and benefits have been realised as a result of the above actions?
We have supported approximately 500 disabled or disadvantaged people per annum to gain access to employment, vocational training or volunteering, through our one to one person centred support;
- 100% of those who have entered paid employment have become less dependent on welfare benefits, social services and health, due to improved finances, improved health and improved independence;
- 97% of those who have undertaken our vocational training have achieved accreditation, which was the first accreditation 90%+ had ever achieved in their lives;
- 87% of those who utilise our services, are now able to utilise public transport independently, improving social integration and independence, integration in their communities and local spend.
This has directly impacted on some third sector organisations, local SME’s, including retailers, Social Services, Health and parents and carers.
4) Please describe how your income and/or any profits generated from previous years has been maximised in delivering social outputs and adding social value.
Our surplus is continually re-invested into the organisation, to ensure our sustainability and services to our communities.
- The provision of vocational training and work experience to disabled and disadvantaged individuals, who need specific one to one support. This includes Special Educational Needs students in local schools and colleges to raise their aspirations when they leave education, providing them with the opportunity to experience what they can achieve with support. This in turn also raises the aspirations of parents and carers. Through this method, we’re able to demonstrate our “Can Do” philosophy and that if the correct niche is identified for individuals, with appropriate support they can achieve and be their best possible self.
- Through our document management services we support local businesses to contribute to their corporate social responsibility, as they are indirectly assisting disabled or disadvantaged people through our employment, training and volunteering opportunities. We are also enabling them to respond appropriately to Welsh Government targets in relation to the Circular Economy, recycling and re-use, through our 100% recycling and reuse of their destructed confidential documents and cardboard. As well as recycling 100% of this paper, we’re also enabling it to be recycled into quality products, due to our substantial sorting system, which then enabled it to have 8 further lives as office stationery, rather than one further life as a disposable item e.g. kitchen or toilet paper. By also working with a recycling company based in Oswestry, we’re reducing the carbon footprint of this recycling.
- We provide our services free of charge to disabled and disadvantaged people seeking employment. We also utilise the income we earn from contracts, to provide support and training to employers in relation to disability equality, free of charge to enable and encourage them to develop a diverse workforce, rather than simply engaging to comply with legislation. Through our methods we develop relationships with employers, so that they are more inclined to employ a disabled person when future vacancies arise.
- We continuously review our services to ensure we are meeting a range of needs. Recent research identified that a substantial range of local companies were sending cardboard to landfill. To divert this product from landfill we started researching whether we could find an alternative use for it. This developed our ECO Animal Bedding, made from shredded cardboard. We now collect this cardboard free of charge from businesses across 10 counties. We support the welfare of a number of animals through the use of this product, including horses, chickens and guineapigs, as it is better for them than straw or wood shavings. The money we earn from this new product aids the sustainability of our ability to employ, train and provide volunteering and the essential one to one support to disabled and disadvantaged people.
The below questions are not mandatory, but Mark holders are encouraged to answer them where possible, to provide a fuller account of their social outcomes and the social value they create.
5) How do you and other people know your aims are being achieved? Or how will you know?
We know we have achieved action plans for individuals as their experiences with us commence with an initial assessment, that is continually monitored and evaluated against their aims. We also provide regular Service Satisfaction questionnaires to people in various formats, that are understandable to them. We then assess the outcomes of this exercise, compiling it into a report for all relevant parties, including staff, Senior Management Team, Board of Trustees, Funders or other stakeholders.
In relation to the organisation as a whole we have a business plan, that is reviewed on a quarterly basis, where all evaluation is submitted to our Board of Trustees, shared amongst our Senior Management Team, plus staff. We also review outcomes of these reports to enable continuous quality improvement, address gaps or shortfalls, or to share good practice.
We share our impacts through social media, including case studies, or via items such as our annual report.
We provide a range of Service Satisfaction to our Social Enterprise customers to ascertain their satisfaction or areas of improvement. These are culminated into a report and then reviewed by our Senior Management Team, addressing areas of improvement, gaps etc., we also recognise and share compliments and satisfaction across the Team, to demonstrate how we’re appreciated and extend our thanks to our staff team.
We utilise a range of social media and other forms of marketing, including those of third parties to report and share our “good news” stories, or opportunities and to specifically highlight the difference we have made or intend to make. This can include a case study of a person’s development and the improvement on the quality of their lives, to the use of our services by a Public Body and how they recognise that we have tailored it to their specific need, providing great customer service, or a customers recognition of the great customer service / commitment by one of our disabled employees / candidates. We also use a range of methods to highlight the influencing we’re undertaking or have achieved with statutory bodies such as Welsh Government, viewing it as collaborative working, rather than lobbying, which can exude a negative view.
6) How many people have benefitted from your actions and what measures of benefit can you report?
As advised above we support approximately 500+ disabled or disadvantaged people every year in terms of employment, training and volunteering.
In terms of document destruction, scanning and document archiving, or provision of ECO Animal Bedding, we have 900+ customers who we provide these services to over the course of each 12 month period. This includes Public Sector bodies, SME’s, third sector or private business, who receive a weekly to monthly service, or simply one annual service, plus individual animal owners, farms or stables who also receive weekly to monthly services.
All of these organisations or individuals have appreciated how we approach the environmental issues with both paper and cardboard products, either enabling it’s recycling to better quality products, recycling in Wales and also reuse of the cardboard, diverting it from landfill. Both of these products equate to approximately 900 tonnes of paper / cardboard waste per annum.
7) What examples can you provide of a typical service user experience, that help illustrate the benefits they have experienced as a result of your actions?
“A” was a young man with Autism, described as needing two to one support at school, who elected not to speak and who was extremely socially isolated. We were approached by his social worker, to see if we were able to offer any opportunities of work experience when he left school. We invited him to visit our document management social enterprise, to also enable him to decide if he wanted to work with ourselves. When he visited, he did not make eye contact with any of our work force, only spoke to his mother in whispers and lacked considerable confidence. However, when he sampled the operation of sorting documents and using the shredding machine for the first time, his motivation and capabilities were very evident.
He chose to visit us for a further two visits, we were informed he would be dropped off by his parents, would need constant one to one support and would need a break in a quiet area, away from everyone else if with us for longer than two hours. He attended both of these sessions and was supported by our job coach on a one to one basis, teaching him each of the tasks, at a pace that suited him. At the end of these two sessions, he chose to continue a six week placement.
This was arranged to extend over a lunch break, with hours gradually increasing. Initially, he chose to eat his lunch in isolation. On the first two occasions he asked his job coach to operate the microwave for him. His job coach did this on the first occasion, on the second occasion he showed him how to operate it, on the third occasion he watched “A” operate it for himself and by the fourth occasion “A” simply operated it himself. As the weeks progressed “A” chose to take lunch with colleagues, he started saying hello and goodbye. Through listening to the chatter of other members of the team, while he was receiving one to one support, he gauged that he had similar interests and very gradually began joining in their conversations. One evening he was invited by another colleague to join in their teams on line gaming, which he responded to. In a very short time, his confidence and self esteem grew considerably, along with his eye contact and verbal interaction.
At week five, we asked whether he wished to stay for longer. He responded that he did, we enquired whether he wanted to travel to work independently on the bus, as we had discovered he had a free bus pass. He responded that he did (this had also been managed in conjunction with his parents and social worker). A travel training plan was constructed for him, with one to one support from his job coach and within four weeks he was travelling independently. Alongside this we also provided a range of vocational training from Health and Safety to our environmental training and getting ready for work. He achieved accreditation in all units.
Thirteen weeks after first meeting him, a number of vacancies arose at our enterprise for recycling operatives. We enquired whether he was interested in applying. Our staff did a full review of his welfare benefits, conducting a better off in work calculation, so that he and his parents could make an informed choice in relation to the level of employment he wanted. As part of our reasonable adjustments, we took his thirteen week placement accomplishments into account as part of his interview and did a very informal interview with him. He was successful and totally overjoyed, taking a job of 16 hours per week.
Six months into the job he was working independently, travelling independently and socialising virtually with colleagues. Twelve months after he joined us, we identified a job in our local community that met his interests.
Whilst his confidence and social interaction had developed considerably in our supported environment, we recognised that this could be damaged if we didn’t manage the transition to the new job carefully. We therefore repeated the pattern that “A” had experienced with ourselves. This included an initial visit to the site with his job coach, which he found inspiring (his word), we then set up a six week transition from one job to the new job, with job coach intervention and support to learn the new bus route and the new tasks within the job.
At this point, “A” also had the confidence to socialise with his colleagues on a weekend, who encouraged him. He loved the new job and settled in quickly, with his job coach only needing to stay with him for approximately four weeks on a constant basis, but with a longer term monitoring plan. That was almost three years ago, with his job coach now only visiting the work site once every six months to check all is well for both “A” and the employer. He has also increased his working hours to 25 per week, still socialises with ex colleagues from our workplace, but he also attends social events with new colleagues. His level of confidence is unrecognisable to the young man we first met, and he has also progressed to being one of our volunteer peer mentors, supporting other disabled volunteers at our social enterprise on his day off.
8) What social and environmental benefits have you created arising from internal operational policies and other actions?
Since our establishment of our document management social enterprise, ELITE Paper Solutions in 2015, we have enabled the recycling of 100% of all paper office documents destructed. This is now recycled into further office paper, which has an additional 8 lifecycles, rather than just one as a disposable paper item e.g. kitchen or toilet paper.
We also identified that a considerable level of cardboard was ending its life in landfill, so have researched and created an ECO Animal Bedding product, that lasts longer and will decompose quicker than straw or wood shavings, which can then be used as fertilizer for plants.
Due to our own environmental ethics, we provide environmental training to all staff, trainees, work experience students and volunteers, to not only implement environmental practices at our workplaces, but also within their own homes, often saving them money.
Our creation of garments at another social enterprise, aids the CSR and environmental practices of our customers, rather than importing such products, they’re enabling the creation of employment, training and volunteering for those often excluded from the labour market, whilst aiding the carbon footprint of their purchasing power, by local procurement.
We have increased the employment opportunities of disabled and disadvantaged people by upskilling them, addressing misconceptions and discrimination, and providing them with adequate person centred support to achieve their goals.
All income earned and grants received are re-invested in our organisation and activities with participants, across our four internal enterprises this is circa £2m per annum. This enables us to support approximately 500+ new people per annum, along with those that have achieved employment since the Charity was founded by our CEO in 1994. We make a commitment to every person and their employer, that should they need us we will support them, to ensure the sustainability of their employment status.