Over 80 businesses attended an uplifting and inspirational Disability Confident event at the beautiful Reed Hall at Exeter University today.
Hosted by Pluss, Devon County Council, Westward Pathfinder, and Exeter and Heart of Devon Employment Skills Board, Disability Confident is a national campaign which encourages employers to be positive about the skills that disabled people bring to business.
Our key note speaker was the awesome Michael Caines, who spoke passionately about seeing peoples ability and following your dreams.The delegates also heard from local employers - The Mercure Exeter Southgate Hotel and Living Options Devon - about how employing a disabled person has helped transform their customer relations and increase their bottom line.
And the event was closed with fabulous music from BBC2 Choir of the Year Semi-Toned.
The Mercure Exeter Southgate Hotel scooped the prestigious ‘Pluss Employer of the Year 2017’ award by being highly pro-active and flexible in their employment of four people with disabilities. The award was presented to Mary Hall and Timothy Doe by Karime Hassan, CEO of Exeter City Council.
Nearly 7 million people of working age in the UK are disabled or have a health condition, yet there has historically been 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 6.8%.
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 their customers are disabled people. On top of this, disabled people and their families spend £249 billion a year in the UK, £20 billion here in the South West.