Many businesses and community projects could learn useful lessons from the example of Flourish House.
If the public has any conception of what is involved in a clubhouse, it usually is of a drop-in centre where members do as much or as little as they like. For those not aware the clubhouse model, it is a type of community based peer support service pioneered in America in the 1940s. Today, there are many in operation throughout Glasgow. Their aim is the promotion of recovery through positive activity – be it artistic, horticulture, catering or administrative work. Originally created by people with experience of mental health issues and it has proved to be a highly successful and innovative approach. What is commonly known as ‘self-help’
Today so much emphasis is put on terms like ‘meeting targets’, ‘outcomes’ and the dreaded ‘employability’. Many people wrongly believe there is not enough incentive to move on in the recovery process. A visit to Flourish House would show them how mistaken they are. I was lucky recently to be invited to facilitate a focus group there and tour the newly refurbished facility. Flourish House member, Paul Mulgrew made it clear how much being part of the project has helped his mental health recovery.
It has an environment any workplace would be envious of. Although the ethos is respectful and friendly, Flourish House has a serious and ambitious programme: all members are encouraged to be responsible for their own activity – what Liah Middleton described as ‘the work ordered day’. Improved skills and esteem are just the beginning. The three work units: catering, administration and employment function as a partnership of its members and service providers. Everyone is encouraged to contribute – staff and members are equally responsible for cleaning the toilets and canteen. It works to everyone’s benefit. Nobody defers decision making to a higher authority.
Equality and ownership has been key to the success of the project. Every minute detail of the project’s newsletter is down to the members. It’s planning is clearly displayed on whiteboards – everyone aware of what part they have to perform. One of the most ambitious aspects of The Employment Units activities is TEPS (The Transitional Employment Placement Scheme) which has helped many move into employment through a determined well-planned process. Businesses are approached directly to take on work placements with the guarantee of cover when anyone is sick or unable to work. Many local employers have taken up the challenge and benefited from it.
It can only be hoped that other employers will notice what is being achieved in Flourish House and emulate its practices of respect, support and development in the workplace. I recommend anyone to visit and see for themselves.
Story by Kevin.