'Ready When You Are' campaign aiming to get people with learning disabilities into paid employment

PUBLISHED: 09:04 18 September 2018 | UPDATED: 09:27 20 September 2018

Ashley and Fiona at the Pig at Combe. Photo: Callum Lawton

Ashley and Fiona at the Pig at Combe. Photo: Callum Lawton

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A joint campaign encouraging businesses to recruit more people with learning disabilities, autism and mental health needs has been launched.

A joint campaign encouraging businesses to recruit more people with learning disabilities, autism and mental health needs has been launched.

Devon County Council and Jobcentre Plus has joined forces to launch the project, after it was revealed only eight percent (3,500) of the 21,000 adults with a learning disability in Devon are in paid employment.

A spokesman for DCC said: “The challenge is not that there’s an unwilling workforce – people with disabilities want to work.

“The challenge, which is described by many people with disabilities, is that it’s very difficult for someone with disabilities to get a job.

“Lots of people with learning disabilities, autism or mental health needs are put off even from applying for jobs through fear of the stigma and misconceptions that can accompany disabled candidates in a recruitment process.”

The ‘Ready When You Are’ campaign aims to raise awareness among business sectors of the advantages for employers of employing people with disabilities.

It will also put the spotlight on the wide range of support that is available to employers and candidates to help them with recruitment.

One success story in Honiton is Ashely Pritchard, 22, a kitchen porter at The Pig at Combe, who has worked at the hotel since it opened in 2016.

He said: “I’d studied catering at college and I really wanted to get a job after I’d finished.

“The main reason why I wanted to work is to earn my own money and choose how I spend it. But I also wanted to be part of a team, and to improve my life skills.

““I was very conscious of the knock back I’d had from my unsuccessful application, so I felt nervous going to my interview with the Head Chef.”

Despite nerves, the interview went well and Ashley was offered the job, becoming a valued member of the new kitchen team.

Fiona Moores, hotel director at The Pig, said: “There were some adjustments that we made early on, as Ashley learned the role and we learned how to get the best of Ashley’s very clear abilities.”

For more information about the Ready When You Are campaign visit readydevon.org.uk

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