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Ready Devon

Meet Fiona—Find out how she's helped Ashley follow his ambition.

Recruiting people with disabilities: It’s all about being prepared

We understand that it can seem really daunting as a business to think about taking on employees with mental health conditions, learning disabilities and autism. The truth is it’s actually all about being prepared and aware of the options.

  • Ashley and Fiona at work
  • Ashley at work
  • Fiona and Ashley stood outside smiling at the camera

Why hiring disabled people is simpler than you think

There are a lot of myths out there around how much it can cost or how big adaptations are needed. The reality is that support is there if you need it, adjustments are often very simple and the average cost per person is minimal.

A great example of this comes from the Pig at Coombe, where Fiona Moores is Hotel Director. Two years ago she employed Ashley, who has a learning disability. Here’s Fiona’s story of how being open and willing to learn has helped Ashley to become a valuable member of the team.

“Ashley joined us from the very beginning, when we opened in July 2016. We didn’t actually know anything about Ashley’s learning disability when we interviewed him. Gradually it became clear that we were expecting a bit too much; we were treating him just like any other kitchen porter and that just wasn’t the case. After a little while, we discussed the possibility of having a job coach come in to support Ashley. That was when things started to come together.”

“The job coach was paid for through Access to Work, so it didn’t cost us anything to support Ashley, and the training we had for the team was refundable too. For us, it was great to have someone available who knew Ashley, and who was able to help us adapt and learn how communicate differently. For Ashley, I think it was great for him to have someone to go to and ask for help no matter what the issue.”

“The training we had was so important for the team. It’s really helped build our awareness of what it means to have a disability and how that can impact on work life. We had formalised training sessions with everyone who works with Ashley sitting around the table. Before, they didn’t always understand his limitations and they’d get frustrated if he didn’t do what he’d been asked. After the training, you could see a massive difference. They could see what kind of support Ashley needed and everything was out in the open, so we could talk about it all. That’s the impact that being open and honest can have.”

“The next step was to make adjustments. When we employed Ashley at the start it was for a full-time job, but it became clear that he wasn’t going to be able to do a full-time job. For us, this was quite a challenging time because as a hotel and restaurant we’re open 24/7. We’re exceptionally busy all of the time and run at a really high occupancy level. So it’s a very fast-paced environment to work in and that was quite stressful and tiring for Ashley. We knew we needed to reduce his hours, so we figured out a way that he could work part-time instead.”

“I think it’s wonderful that he’s still sat here beside me two years later. He’s the only kitchen porter who is still here from the original team. He’s very reliable and he works hard.”

“My advice to other employers and to people with learning disabilities is to be more open and honest about it. Ashley could have had a better start with us here if we’d known about it from the beginning.”

Find out how simple it can be for your business to support people with disabilities. Ask to be contacted by a Jobcentre Plus local Employer Advisor.

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