Social and Employment
Vandœuvre, Meurthe-et-Moselle.france, France
20,000 euro to the Selection Committee at 2006/10/03
"The director of Sotres Lorraine, who got this wonderful initiative off the ground, is proving through her admirable results that it is quite possible for people with psychological problems to have a rewarding professional life."
Of the more than 3 million disabled people in France, some 700,000 suffer from a psychological disorder in the form of a persistent mental health problem like schizophrenia, severe neurosis or anorexia, typically associated with severe social difficulties such as solitude or social exclusion. And yet people suffering from these conditions often have real intellectual capacities and are perfectly capable of holding down a job.
In 2004, Sotres Lorraine decided to focus on this problem and specialize in supporting people with psychological problems who have nonetheless succeeded in obtaining educational qualifications. It offers part-time employment to 10 people with a recognized disability but with an educational diploma (baccalaureate or up to 5 years of higher education) in its center in a Lyon suburb.
Redefining career objectives
The aim is to help these people define their career objectives and teach them how to deal with human relations in an ordinary work environment. After a rocky start due to the very innovative nature of the approach and a certain lack of understanding of what psychological disorders entail, the organization has succeeded in substantially expanding its activity.
Half of Sofres's activity consists of bulk mail shots. It also offers IT-related services: producing brochures, company newsletters, greeting cards, creating web sites and providing automated office services for private or public-sector clients. In just two years, the organization succeeded in developing its activities to the point of reaching breakeven at the end of 2005 and is now ready to double its workforce.
It will therefore be moving to more spacious premises better suited to its activities, provided by the Vandœuvre municipality. It hopes to develop a training and psychological and social support program for its employees and supervisory staff by recruiting a full-time psychologist and improve its production facilities by buying 15 or so new computers with Internet connections.