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Utsikten became the step towards life

Broad synergies in Västerbotten for people with poor health and social problems have produced excellent results. Of the 44 who have completed their time in the Social Fund Project Utsikten in Skellefteå, 18 found employment and 11 started to study, which means that 67 per cent of the participants have gone on to jobs or educations.

Kvinna med kikare

Caption: In the project Utsikten, several authorities work together and invest in people with social problems and mental illnesses. Photo: Fotoakuten 

“Frail people need a lot of help to get started, more or less all of the time. They are people with complex problems, often with psychiatric diagnoses and also with abuse problems," says Ingrid Selin, project manager for Utsikten.

The coaches at Utsikten provide one hundred per cent assistance. They provide support both when participants’ have work-place training and whenever they need help in their homes.  The project Utsikten started in Skellefteå in 2006, with financial support from Samordningsförbundet in Västerbotten. In 2009 the Social Fund decided to provide support with project funds for a further two years.

Four authorities

Officers from four authorities work at Utsikten - Skellefteå Municipality, Västerbotten County Council, the Employment Service Agency and the Social Insurance Office – by working together, they are better equipped to provide help for the participants. The project plan means that Utsikten’s participants gain access to the expertise and resources that all four organizations have to offer without undue delay so that there is less risk of them ending up in bureaucratic no-man’s land.

In the autumn of 2008, an socio-economic analysis was made of Utsikten’s 29 participants; and 14 of them had achieved self-sufficiency. It has been estimated that the financial benefits for society are around SEK 44 million. This is significantly more than the cost of the four people who worked on the project.  The long-term socio-economic benefits have been estimated at a minimum of SEK 3.7 million per participant.

The follow-up of the project sends out positive signals. On a scale of one to ten, the participants’ average points are 7.63 for a better life situation, an average of 7.46 for the ability to influence the initiative and on average 8.16 points when the initiative is assessed as a whole.

From crisis to higher education

26-year-old Jenny is one of those who has participated in the project. She is now studying to become a teacher at the Mid Sweden University in Sundsvall; in three years she has gone from constant medications, multiple psychiatric diagnoses and a difficult relationship crisis, to higher education.

“At Utsikten they understood me, and they didn’t regard me as a UFO. They understood that I was going through a rough period in my life," says Jenny, who at the time didn’t understand her limitations, and who just kept on going at full steam when her body and mind said stop," she says.

The latest evaluation shows that 67 per cent of the participants find work or studies. The biggest challenge for Utsikten is to introduce the work method in the organizations of the parties concerned and to ensure permanent operations.

 “We have finances throughout this year and are looking for a continuation. With results as good as these we hope, of course, that the project will become permanent," says Ingrid Selin, project manager for Utsikten.