Changing lives through Social Enterprises in the UK and abroad

Changing lives through Social Enterprises in the UK and abroad

Posted by: Jo Seagrave / 09 September 2018

By Ian Walker

Senior Director, Johnson & Johnson Global Community Impact

At Johnson & Johnson, we launched our ‘Social Impact through Procurement’ programme in July 2014. The idea was to see how Johnson & Johnson procures its services and if any of these services could be purchased to have a greater benefit to society. Social enterprises provide Johnson & Johnson with quality goods and services, and at the same time employ people who would otherwise find it hard to get a job, including those impacted by disabilities, mental health and issues such as homelessness and criminal records. This ethos has been built into our business, through our Credo, since 1943 and continues to be at the heart of our decision-making.

I recently spent some time in Ghana, working on a Ghana Community Mental Health Project through one of our UK social enterprise partners Attigo. Mental health remains high on the political and news agenda and has historically been neglected in Africa’s health and development policy agenda. The “treatment gap” – the proportion of people with mental illness who don’t get treatment – ranges from 75% in South Africa to more than 90% in Ethiopia and Nigeria.

Data on the epidemiology of mental disorders in Ghana is inadequate and outdated thereby limiting the ability to compute the burden of these disorders. We know that the government only spent 1.4% of the total health budget meaning that there are only 13 practising psychiatrists in public service.

Mental health then is a key priority for Ghana and the Mental Health Authority and Ghana Health Service are facing significant pressures on inpatient beds due to demand/budget pressures. We helped them to adopt the SEPT (South Essex Partnership Trust) model which focuses on supporting recovery by empowering people, families and communities in playing a more active role in supporting people with mental illness, while addressing the stigma associated with mental health conditions.

This is just one example of where we are not only using our size for good but also leading the agenda and changing the direction of health through our work with social enterprises. It also helps to inspire our employees by working for a company that helps people, impacts society and our wider customers. This is what genuine responsibility is all about.

Meeting the needs of future generations requires all of us to be at our best. We are delighted to see the positive impact that social enterprises are having on the lives of those who face barriers to the job market. We want to see social enterprises flourish because we understand the immense value they have in in terms of overall societal benefit and developing individuals where ever they are in the world.

But we need others from the private sector to join our ranks and share not just our philosophy but recognise the valuable work that social enterprises do and understand that their procurement can be a real driving force for social change. Social enterprises help build a future that works for everyone and so we must increase our efforts to support and promote the life-changing work they enable.

Johnson & Johnson is a platinum sponsor of SEWF 2018