Who We Are
First Step Trust (FST) is an innovative charity which runs social enterprises to provide work and training opportunities for people excluded from work because of mental health issues or other disadvantages, including drug and alcohol recovery problems and a history of offending.
What We Offer
We provide a commercial environment which people can join, on a voluntary basis, to gain work experience, as well as confidence, skills and qualifications. We support people to fulfil their potential, contribute to their local community, and where possible, make the transition to paid employment.
Over the last 5 years, FST has been developing its model of delivery into SMaRT – Socially Minded and Responsible Trading™. SMaRT is increasingly attracting interest from policy makers, healthcare professionals and other stakeholders who want to identify effective interventions which aid recovery and support people back into the workplace.
Who We Work With
FST works with some of the most vulnerable and socially-excluded members of our community. 50% of people we work with have been unemployed for at least 5 years, 61% of people have a CPA level (Care Programme Approach) indicating complex needs whilst 78% are on benefits which indicate those furthest removed from the jobs market.
FST provides support so that people can make the choices that they feel will help them to overcome social exclusion and improve the quality of their life. We do this by providing:
- personalised work placements in a commercial enterprise;
- access to training, qualifications and salaried employment;
- involvement as a colleague with responsibilities; and
- opportunities for social interaction with team members, suppliers and customers.
FST was set up in 1987 in Greenwich with a three year grant from the Sainsbury Centre for Mental Health. Since then it has steadily grown into the thriving and growing organisation it is today with over 10 projects around the country. Our projects are located in areas of high unemployment, in London, the Midlands and North West. A number of them are based in secure mental health units as well as in the community.
FST changes lives. I’ve seen young people whose worlds have fallen apart start to rebuild them in the safety and support of an FST project.