Seb Bell is a hard working and highly valued Kitchen Porter at The Imperial Hotel in Barnstaple.
Seb, 23, has dyspraxia and complex learning disabilities and was a pupil at Lampard Community School. Yet his positive attitude and strong work ethic means he has never let his disabilities hold him back.
Seb was helped into work by local Social Enterprise, Pluss, who support hundreds of people with disabilities across North Devon to find employment. Having recently moved into independent employment, Pluss have awarded him with a donation to give to the charity of his choice.
“Now that I have progressed into unsupported employment” explains Seb, “Pluss have given me £250 to give to charity. I have chosen to give it to my old school, Lampard’s. They have a choir and it is just my way of giving my happiness about this job back to them.”
“I have dyspraxia and a learning disability. I have never let my disability get me down but I did really struggle with maths at school. Before this, I was looking for work but it was hard to find a job that suited me.
“Then I saw this job on the Imperial Facebook page and went in with my CV. Pluss came with me to interview and I was offered the job. I was so happy. I live with my Mum and Dad and they were very happy too.
“Now, it feels really good to be working; getting up in the morning and going to work with a smile on my face. Earning my own wage is really great and I am proud of myself for getting a job.”
William Sherwin, Hotel Manager at the Imperial Hotel is equally delighted with his new employee. “Seb is fantastic” says William, “A real asset to the hotel. He is always positive, friendly and chats to everyone. He is also very reliable, likeable and a valued member of the team.
“When he first started with us he was a little quiet and unsure. His confidence wasn’t that high. Now he has really come out of his shell - he even helps us to train up new recruits and shows them what to do.”
On being awarded their donation, Karen Rogers, Head teacher at Lampard Community School, said “I remember Seb when he was very little so it is wonderful to see how much he has grown in confidence. He always wanted to work in hospitality and it is down to his hard work that he has made such a success of it.
“Seb is a fantastic role model for all of our pupils and we are so pleased that he thought of us. The Pluss donation will go towards purchasing a new uniform so the choir can look a little smarter and also a sound system that we can use for performances.
“It is brilliant that the Imperial Hotel is employing young people with learning disabilities” adds Karen, “I hope that this will encourage other employers to take a leap of faith and do the same.”
Over 80% 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.
Pluss delivers Work Choice, the Department for Work and Pensions specialist disability employment programme. Work Choice receives funding from the European Social Fund for customers referred to the programme prior to 25th April 2017.