26. August 2019

New report: Vulnerable people want a job more than anything else

People who live on the fringes of society dream about a meaningful existence – and for many, that means having a job. But the vast majority find that there is no place for them in the job market due to the lack of flexibility and consideration for people’s individual circumstances. This is according to a study commissioned by The Mary Foundation, TrygFonden and VIVE – The Danish Center for Social Science Research.

Many people with social, physical or psychological challenges would like to work or contribute to their community in some other way. But most of these people often find it difficult – if not impossible – to live up to the job market’s expectations.

Through a series of interviews with 78 people who find themselves marginalised from their communities to varying extents, the new study “Behind the Community Survey” paints a nuanced picture of how social exclusion affects people’s lives. The interviewees are particularly affected by psychological vulnerability and loneliness. But their wishes and dreams also attest to a substantial, untapped resource that the welfare system and civil society must find a better way of tapping into if these people are to have the opportunity to feel part of their communities.

Giving the vulnerable a voice in the debate

The report is a follow-up of the Community Survey from 2017, which studied the experiences of various segments of the population in terms of how they feel – or do not feel – included in their communities. It showed that one in every five adults feels they live on the fringes of – or entirely excluded from – society. The new study digs a bit deeper by including qualitative interviews with people who experience social exclusion to varying degrees.

The study exposes us to 78 real-life stories about deprivation, needs, resources and wishes. No two stories are the same, but the desire to lead a meaningful life permeates them all. This highlights the importance of seeing and listening to the individual and reminds us that lives lived can rarely be summed up in a nutshell. We and others can use this insight to inform our understanding and support the many people who live on the fringes of society,” said Helle Østergaard, Director of The Mary Foundation.

More flexible job opportunities

According to TrygFonden, the study provokes an important debate about how the job market is constructed.

“As a society, we have a responsibility to help people who find themselves on the outside of their communities to get back in. Studies show that these people want to make that move, which means there is great potential for making the job market far more flexible than it is today. Our goal is for this study to initiate a debate about how municipalities, companies and organisations can address this problem going forward,” said Gurli Martinussen, Director of TrygFonden.

The study was presented at a conference organised by The Mary Foundation and TrygFonden on 26 August. The Chair of The Mary Foundation, Her Royal Highness Crown Princess Mary of Denmark, was among the speakers at the conference.

Authored by:

Bodil Liv Holm

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