As part of the Day Opportunities community based day services, adults with a learning disability are assisted in progressing towards supported employment through the Social Enterprise Scheme.
The Northern Trust’s Day Opportunities Programme has developed a number of social enterprise facilities across the Trust to assess and prepare people for employment opportunities.
A social enterprise is: “A business that trades in the market for an explicit social purpose. Social Enterprises are assumed to have three distinct characteristics: they have a clear social aim; they are socially owned (nonprofit-distributing) and they have an enterprise orientation where their turnover is derived from sales or contracts” (Social Economy Network, Northern Ireland; 2011).
Each social enterprise has been created with a range of community and not-for-profit sector providers and in some instances in partnership with the Department for Employment and Learning.
A wide range of work products and vocational services are locally delivered across these social enterprise facilities. These include candle production, mop production, recycling, horticulture, manufacture of electronic conferencing materials, mail shots, preparation of marketing packs etc.
During their time with the social enterprise each participant will acquire the necessary knowledge and skills to move into supported employment or volunteering. Skills include learning to be in work on time, organising transport to and from work and making lunch to take to work. Participants also learn about health and safety information, working as part of a team and preparing for future employment.
Social enterprise opportunities may be seen as a stepping stone in progressing towards supported employment. The progress of this opportunity is continually monitored through the Northern Trust’s Day Opportunities Programme.