New startup funding for people with mental heath problems

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The Department of Trade and Industry has set-aside £1 million to help people with mental health conditions enter the world of the entrepreneur

This latest cash injection is designed to help encourage entrepreneurship as a means of tackling social exclusion.

Although help is not available to individual businesses, Health and Enterprise bodies have until 10 September to become one of the organisations to benefit from ‘Phoenix Fund’ support.

The Phoenix Fund was established by the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry, Patricia Hewitt, to help promote enterprise in disadvantaged areas and groups under represented in terms of business ownership.

Nigel Griffiths, Secretary of State for Small Business Enterprise, said, “A high number of people with mental health conditions aspire to work, but often feel that employers have little awareness and understanding of their situation.

“For some, an alternative to trying to compete directly in the job market is to become self-employed.”

Around one in six people of working age suffer from mental health problems with between two and four per cent suffering from  a severe mental illness.

The DTI has emphasised the relevance of paid employment as a way of helping those with mental health conditions but also found few current examples of support to help individuals pursue such opportunities.

Griffiths said, “This programme aims to stimulate new and innovative approaches to encourage and sustain new entrepreneurial behaviour among those affected by mental health issues.”

Funding will be available to schemes that offer:

 - Innovative approaches to encourage people to actively explore ideas for start-ups  - Practical ways of helping to take forward business ideas and develop them into business plans  - Encouragement to individuals to learn business skills  - On-going support to start-ups  - Support to people already in business in circumstances where illness puts the business at risk

Dr Andrew McCulloch, Chief Executive at the Mental Health Foundation, added, “People with mental health problems need support to get the jobs they want.

“We very much welcome this DTI initiative to help more people get back into work and would encourage those working in the field of mental health to look at putting together bids for this Phoenix funding.”

The closing date for applications is Friday 10 September. Click here to view guidance available from the Phoenix website.

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