Network A Facilitating access and return to the labour market for those who have difficulty in being integrated or reintegrated into a labour market which must be open to everyone.
Project name Face to Face with the Labour Market – a Model of Transitional Employment
Project number A0733

Project description

The Development Partnership was established to support re-entry of people with mental disorders to the labour market and their return to unassisted life and social activity. This task is problematic due to a lack of motivation among mentally ill persons and negative attitudes of the community. Those suffering from mental health problems are usually well established clients of health care institutions, where they are unable to identify their needs themselves and make reasoned decisions on their future. Relapses are one more reason for marginalization of such people in the labour market. Sometimes it takes several years for people with mental problems to return to unassisted life and financial self-sufficiency, provided that they don't resign in the beginning. Labour market discrimination of this group is the effect of social distance towards mentally ill persons, which translates into attitudes of employers who tend to perceive them as unreliable and hardly predictable workers. People with mental disorders account now for only 3.6% of the total employment of the disabled.

Partnership's objective is to promote equal employment opportunities for people with mental disorders by implementing a module of transitional employment under international "Fountain House" model. The homes are run by Club members assisted by employers and local communities. Club members follow educational activities there (vocational training courses, workshops, events delivered by experts) so that they are better prepared for entering the open labour market. They teach each other and define their educational needs themselves: be it language or vocational courses, IT training or driver's license courses. Responsibility for actual programme of events and ongoing Fountain House management promotes integration and empowerment of persons suffering from mental health problems. Transitional employment is an innovative component of Fountain House operations. New jobs are created for project participants under direct cooperation of Fountain Houses with employers. Transitional employment enables persons with mental disorders to test their abilities in real job environment. Transitional pattern (up to 9 months for one job position) helps to alleviate stress arising from the will to keep the job at any cost. Transitional employment is intended to prepare House Club members for entering the labour market. Accordingly, it should not be perceived as ultimate position. Those participating in Transitional Employment Programme have an opportunity to acquire experience from several employers and at several job positions so that they are better prepared for entering the labour market on a competitive basis.

Programme beneficiaries are 115 members of House Clubs from Fountain Houses in Kielce and Warsaw regions, as well as 16 employers who have agreed to create pilot job positions in their companies. Responsibilities indicated by the employers are normally performed by two House Club members on a rotation basis. The Fountain House is primarily about encouraging employers to hire properly trained House Club members and provide substitute workers. Pilote scale implementation of the House Club model and transitional employment concept will be a test for applicability of these solutions in Poland.

In order to prepare employer for hiring mentally ill persons, Project partners will host meetings, seminars and educational/awareness workshops for employers from the Warsaw region. Also representatives from public administration will join the latter programme. Employers benefiting from the Project will learn the rules of responsible business, flexible employment solutions, details of House Club model and transitional employment approach. They will also contribute to the development of a model for social integration of persons with mental health problems. The involvement of employers and public administration representatives will help to being about a change in public mentality and legislation. More importantly, this will contribute to dispelling the
stereotype that mental health problems preclude unassisted living and occupational activity.

Dissemination activities promoting the model of occupation reintegration of mentally ill persons will involve several areas. Project partners plan to reach social, health and employment policy makers, representatives of employers' associations, non-government organisations and central government institutions at meetings and seminars, using printed materials, one-off events and website. In addition to promotion of House Club model and transitional employment approach, dissemination activities are intended to bring about a change in public perception of mentally ill people and initiate system activities that help to build social and occupational independence of these persons.