Social enterprise Pluss was recently bestowed with the national Social Champion Award at the Charity Times Awards.
The awards are in their fifteenth year and are the pre-eminent celebration of best practice in the UK charity and not-for-profit sector. The judges said Pluss had “Impressive growth, impressive impact based on a clear vision. This is a very impressive winner.”
The Social Champion Award is given to a Social Enterprise that can show how they have consistently delivered outstanding service to the end-beneficiaries, promoted and raised its cause, been clear in its social changing goals, strategy and vision and demonstrated excellence all round.
Pluss works to help people with disabilities into work, people like Sophie. Sophie, 20 from Fishponds in Bristol, is a Vehicle Repairer/Painter for Restomod, an automotive repair business. She is profoundly deaf and communicates by lip-reading and using British Sign Language.
Sophie said “I had looked for jobs but it was difficult to find a job to match my skills and interests. It’s quite rare for women in jobs like this. I also think communication was an obstacle – some people talk too fast and they see me as a barrier. Then I had support from Gary at Pluss. After a couple of weeks we found this garage and it suited me and my skills. When I came to look around I could see the atmosphere was very positive.
“I have become much more confident since I’ve been here and I feel motivated.
“It has made me more confident with lip-reading and communicating with people outside. I had to write before, I would write things down and it used to be difficult to communicate.”
James Nichols, the owner of Restomod, and Sophie’s boss said “Sophie is a very hard worker; she doesn’t stand around chatting. She has real drive and uses her initiative; she asks me what’s next. This type of work can be quite demanding and you’ve got to have a real passion and be able to keep up – which Sophie does.
“We were a little apprehensive at first just around how things would go with communication but everything is going very well. It really seems to be working. You need to know a little bit of sign language but I’m really quite enjoying learning. I have never had to speak other languages but she is quite willing to teach me and I find it interesting and refreshing to do something a bit different.
“We have had brilliant support from Pluss and they visit every three weeks or so just to make sure everything is going ok. They have basically given us a good worker who is very willing.”