Mental Health Service Provider Strikes Breakthrough Career-Making Corporate Partnership

Fri Nov 22, 2013

A leading mental health service provider has brought into one of the country’s best known corporate brands, creating a new benchmark in how people with psychosocial disabilities can access jobs and careers.

RichmondPRA, a not-for-profit that specialises in community-based support for people with a lived experience of mental illness, has become a franchisee of printing and design company Kwik Kopy and now owns and runs the Kwik Kopy centre at Surry Hills in inner-Sydney, which formally opened its doors last month.

RichmondPRA will gradually integrate workers with psychosocial disabilities into the Surry Hills business, enabling them to gain premium training, skills and experience in the printing and graphic design sector under the Kwik Kopy banner.

It’s intended that about half of the centre’s staff will eventually be made up of people who have a lived experience of a mental illness. About a dozen workers with mental illness are expected to be 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.

Although RichmondPRA has operated a series of internal commercial business and employment programs across Sydney for more than fifty years, the venture with Kwik Kopy is an unprecedented turning point.

For the first time, RichmondPRA can tap into a dynamic and reputable corporate entity, giving workers access to the expertise, knowledge, culture, services and products and a leading corporate brand.

Workers with a mental illness will receive tailor-made training, guidance and mentorship. Vocational services will be provided to give each worker the best chance of excelling. Complementary education through TAFE will be encouraged. Workers will also be encouraged to move towards tertiary education, if possible.

More significantly, participants are able to side-step the isolation and stigmatism that often goes with mental illness by interacting with other workers in a stimulating environment where they can build new social networks and make productive contributions. This provides a self-esteem boost and makes an enormous difference to the recovery journey.

“What started as a conceptual idea only eighteen 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.”

Ms Rutledge added that 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,” Ms 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.”

Ms Rutledge emphasised that the arrangement with Kwik Kopy is a true corporate foray. Although Kwik Kopy is providing all reasonable support, no special deals have been done to carry RichmondPRA forward.

“The financial arrangements around this franchise contract are the same as any other Kwik Kopy franchise, meaning there’s an onus on RichmondPRA to make the venture work,” Ms Rutledge said.

“We have to turn a profit by giving customers the same high quality standards they’d expect at any other Kwik Kopy outlet. In that sense, customers won’t notice anything different about doing business at Kwik Kopy Surry Hills.”

25 year old Ashleigh Parnell, who lives with an anxiety disorder, is the first person with a lived experience of mental illness to be employed at the centre. So far she’s receiving training in data entry, packaging, and binding.

“I feel like I’ve started a new journey of opportunity and hope,” Ms Parnell said.

“I know first-hand how devastating anxiety and unemployment can be when combined. But now I feel as though I’ve got day-to-day direction and am doing something meaningful. I feel like I’m in with a big chance to make progress with my life.”

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,” Mr Bell said.

“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.”

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,” Mr 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 New South Wales and Queensland. Advocating community-based assistance, it is a foremost mental health support provider that has been in operation for more than 55 years.

RichmondPRA’s broader employment generation program currently creates jobs for more than 500 people each year.

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

Kwik Kopy delivers practical advice, graphic design and advanced online access to provide customers with superior communication products to enhance their business. The company boasts some of the finest minds in the franchising market, as well as franchisees who have successfully made the Kwik Kopy corporate vision work for themselves. An independent Australian company, Kwik Kopy Australia was established in 1982.

 

MEDIA ENQUIRIES
RichmondPRA: Matthew Watson – 0417 691 884
Kwik Kopy: Nicki Davies – 0410 590 408