General News Sector News — 28 November 2013
Mental Health Service Provider Buys into Franchise

A mental health service provider has bought into a well-known corporate franchise to help people with psychosocial disabilities get work. RichmondPRA, a Not for Profit that specialises in community-based support for people with mental illness, has become a franchisee of printing and design company Kwik Kopy.

The Not for Profit now owns and runs the Kwik Kopy centre at Surry Hills in inner-Sydney, which opened its doors last month.

Through the Surry Hills centre, RichmondPRA will integrate workers with psychosocial disabilities, enabling them to gain training, skills and experience in the printing and graphic design sector. Kwik Kopy CEO David Bell said the arrangement with RichmondPRA was highly innovative.

“This is a situation where we’ve taken on an organisation – RichmondPRA – as a franchisee, rather than an individual owner/operator,” Bell said. bigstock_Business_handshake_2537479

“In the interests of delivering an invaluable community and social benefit, we found ways to make this work.

“Everything is in place for this tremendous venture to move forward, and we’ll be watching closely to be sure that both the corporate and social results stack up.”

About half of the centre’s staff will be made up of people who have a mental illness – which will equate to about 12 workers with mental illness employed at the centre each year.

Eligible staff will go through a pre-employment support program enabling them to prepare for the demands of working in a fast-moving and customer-focused environment.

“What started as a conceptual idea only 18 months ago has blossomed into an exciting and unprecedented commercial reality with enormous social benefits,” RichmondPRA CEO Pam Rutledge said.

“The willingness of Kwik Kopy to embrace RichmondPRA’s values and mission is commendable. This sets a new standard in terms of the private sector assisting with employment opportunities for those with a lived experience of mental illness.

“If the venture is successful the sky could be the limit in terms of how many other companies could help provide jobs and careers for people who live with a mental illness.”

Rutledge said the Kwik Kopy brand would be invaluable for employees with mental illness who have struggled to get a foot-hold in the workplace.

“People with a mental illness are more likely to be unemployed than people with any other type of disability, a situation that often exacerbates their conditions,” Rutledge said. “Yet the reality is that people with mental illness can succeed in most jobs and careers with the right guidance and support.

“Kwik Kopy is a brand that people know and respect and it will add great value to any workers CV.

“The hope is that there will be unprecedented opportunities for employees to be absorbed by the open labour market once they’ve gained skills and experience at Kwik Kopy Surry Hills.”

Kwik Kopy Chairman Stephen Penfold strongly encouraged other top corporate brands to look at Kwik Kopy’s initiative with RichmondPRA and follow its lead.

“Any steps that are taken to create job opportunities for people with a lived experience of mental illness are good steps,” Penfold said.

“There’s a moral onus on companies across Australia to help, and Kwik Kopy is proud to be playing a pioneering role.”

RichmondPRA is a Not for Profit organisation providing recovery focussed support programs, accommodation and hope for people with mental illness in NSW and Queensland.

Kwik Kopy Australia is a provider of graphic design, print, web and marketing services, with more than 100 centres operating throughout Australia.

This article first appeared on ‘Pro Bono Australia’ on 27 November 2013.

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