Sainsbury’s in Pinhoe, Exeter, were delighted to win a prestigious ‘Employer of the Year’ award at a Disability Confident event held this week at Haven Banks Outdoor Centre in Exeter.
Hosted by Pluss, Disability Confident is a national campaign launched by David Cameron that encourages employers to be positive about the skills that disabled people bring to business. Pluss, a local Social Enterprise, is a national partner in the campaign and is working closely with the Minister for Disabled People to bring the campaign to local areas.
The event was opened by Derek Phillips, Vice President of Exeter Chamber, who presented Sainsbury’s with their trophy and a bottle of champagne.
Sainsbury’s Pinhoe have made significant adjustments to their national recruitment procedures which can often prove extremely worrying and stressful for people with learning disabilities or mental health issues. Sainsbury’s offered jobseekers the opportunity to undertake short term work trials in store to demonstrate their skills first hand. By being so flexible in their procedures, Sainsbury’s have provided life changing employment opportunities to several people with complex disabilities.
Over 50 other Exeter and East Devon businesses also attended the event with speakers including Londis and Blue Chip Holidays. The employers spoke about how employing a disabled person is one of the best decisions they have ever made; how it has transformed their culture, their customer relations, their performance – and their bottom line!
Derek Phillips also presented Sharnaa Morgan with the Pluss ‘Achiever of the Year’ award.
Sharnaa, 22, has Achondroplasia, a condition that Sharnaa refers to as being a ‘little person’, and severe dyslexia. Having overcome significant barriers including being taken into care and bullied at school, Sharnaa’s ambition has always been to get a paid job. She now works at Discovery Nursery in Exeter and has gone from having very little self belief to fulfilling her job role well. She is now happy, engaged and looking for her own home.
Nearly 7 million people of working age in the UK are disabled or have a health condition, yet there is a large gap between the numbers of disabled people employed compared with non disabled people. Over 72% of the working age population are currently in work yet for someone with a learning disability living in Devon it is only 8.6%.
Many employers find that by encouraging applications from disabled people they are able to extend the pool of high quality applicants available to them. For an average business, 20% of customers are disabled and a workforce that reflects the community in which it is based is good for business. On top of this, disabled people and their families spend £212 billion a year in the UK (£20 billion here in the South West).