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Social Finance to scale up IPS across Europe 

Social Finance NL has been awarded funding to explore with Social Finance UK how to scale up the Individual Placement Support (IPS) approach across five European countries.

The European Social Catalyst Fund (ESCF) is a new initiative designed to have significant impact on some of Europe’s most pressing social challenges. Bringing together public and private resources, it is designed to stimulate and support creative ways to scale up proven social service innovations to produce good outcomes, cost effectively. 

Social Finance has been successful in a proposal to ESCF to provide financial and capacity building support to develop plans to scale the evidence-based Individual Placement and Support (IPS) approach for people with severe and enduring mental health illness to gain and sustain paid employment. The project will explore the scale up of IPS across five EU countries: Croatia, Czech Republic, Denmark, France and Spain.

Social Finance UK has created a working group with members from five EU countries to design a roadmap that will help with the rollout and expansion of IPS in each country.  

The project will run until September 2021, bringing together a range of key country experts with extensive experience in shaping government policy and promoting IPS. 

Björrn Vennema, managing director and co-founder of Social Finance NL, said:

“This collaboration is an example of how we can leverage expertise in one place to make a much larger impact across borders. I’m thrilled that we are going to work with this international consortium and scale up the IPS methodology, which is now more needed than ever due to the effects that Covid-19 has brought upon mental wellbeing and employment outcomes. We thank the ESCF for their support and are looking forward to working with the ESCF and our partners to scale up evidence-based methodologies in Europe.”

Gary Johnston, Health and Employment Partnerships Director of Operations at Social Finance UK, said:

“You would think it was easy to have an evidenced-based supported employment intervention adopted. Our experience is that changing the way things are done (even if the change has evidence of making massive impact for good) isn’t that easy. This grant allows each of our country partners to explore how to create a road map that guides the change; a change that will help people with severe mental illness get access to support that doubles their chance of gaining paid employment.

Madeleine Clarke, Executive Director at GENIO, said:

Smart thinking is needed on how to scale impact that is not limited to finding resources to make organisations grow. A broader repertoire of approaches to scaling is required if we are to reduce, or eliminate, some of the major social challenges facing Europe.”

The ESCF has been established and co-funded by the European Union’s Horizon 2020 Research and Innovation Programme, Genio, the Robert Bosch Stiftung and the King Baudouin Foundation. The ESCF call for proposals was completed at the end of 2020. In total, 120 applications were received from 22 countries describing innovations relevant to all 16 social challenge areas identified in the call.