Innovative Practices 2013 on Employment

Developing work and employment opportunities

The Socially Minded and Responsible Trading™ (SMaRT) business model enables First Step Trust (FST) to develop work and employment opportunities for people with mental health conditions and other disabilities/disadvantages.

About the practice at a glance
Name of Innovative Practice:Developing work and employment opportunities
Organisation:First Step Trust/SMaRT business model
of origin
United Kingdom


FST has an annual turnover of £2.9 million and employs around 40 people including four people with mental health conditions recruited from the workforce.

In 2011, FST’s SMaRT garages and restaurants generated around £420,000 selling MOT tests and servicing work (replacing brakes, oil etc.) to the public. More than 250 people have joined SMaRT. 50% of these had either been unemployed for 5-10 years or had never worked before. Just over 140 applied for recognised training courses and, to date, approximately 60 have completed the course and achieved recognised qualifications in a number of subjects (e.g. health and safety, finance, business administration and catering). A further three are studying for a motor vehicle qualification with the local college/university. Of the 250 people, 12 moved on to full time employment and a further eight took on part-time work.

Funding from the Stavros Niarchos Foundation enabled FST to provide access to formal accountancy training/accreditation for the first time. To date, 15 people are engaged in the programme.


SMaRT creates independent, sustainable income streams. FST now has three garages and two restaurants delivering the SMaRT approach. The approach is being taken into finance and office administration. Garages provide on-the-job training in motor mechanics, marketing and promotions, and customer service. Restaurants provide qualifications and work experience in catering to the public and the trade.

SMaRT is about using viable businesses to ensure that FST is able to continue providing work opportunities for people who are normally excluded from state and voluntary sector support because of their illnesses or disadvantages. SMaRT gives people some control over their situation, seeing them as assets, allowing them to access the responsibilities, pressures and expectations of ordinary work and motivating them to make real changes to their lives and gain more control over symptoms.


United Kingdom



Ronnie Wilson
Chief Executive
First Step Trust
Unit 9 Kingside Industrial Park, Ruston Road, Woolwich, London SE18 5BX, UK
Phone: +44 208 855 7386 or + 44 797 105 1037

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