Local businesses gather to become ‘Disability Confident’

Up to 50 businesses from across North Devon met at Barnstaple Rugby Club last week to find out more about the business benefits and support available when it comes to employing disabled people.

Disability Confident is a national Government campaign, launched by David Cameron in London last year, which encourages employers to be positive about the skills that disabled people bring to business. The local event was organised by Pluss, a social enterprise that helps people with disabilities to find work and provides free support to businesses looking to gain a more diverse workforce.

North Devon MP, Nick Harvey, spoke at the event to show his support for the campaign locally. He said “As a nation we can’t afford to write off the talent of the millions of disabled people of working age in the UK who want to work. We need a durable solution to finding ways of supporting disabled people into mainstream employment. It’s clear from businesses we’ve heard speak tonight that organisations like Pluss and the Disability Confident campaign are key to this process.”

The event also heard from several Senior Managers from local businesses that are already making great progress in employing disabled people.

Sami Caglar, Managing Director at SFL Chimneys said “It is important to us as a business to be positive about people of all abilities because including these people in our selection pool helps us to find high calibre individuals that are committed. In our experience our employees have been very flexible, keen to learn more and want to work. They have been reliable and shown real potential for the future.

“We are delighted to be involved in this event as it helps to remove preconceived ideas and promote the abilities that so many disabled people have to offer; in turn we hope this will open up more opportunities.”

Graham Campbell, Operations Director at Atlas Packaging said “Everyone deserves a chance. Just because someone has a disability doesn’t mean that they have nothing to offer; on the contrary, in our experience, they have a determination and commitment that can make a massive difference in the workplace.

“We feel that events such as these will highlight the benefits and give potential employers the confidence that a disability doesn’t discount the individual.”

Martin Mogford, Operations Director at SWM Metals said “It is important to SWM to be positive about employing disabled people because there are millions of disabled people in the UK, which provides a rich pool of talented people, it therefore makes solid financial and business sense to actively recruit from this pool.

“It has also improved our corporate image since we are seen as ethical team builders who care about reputation, corporate social responsibility and the image we portray to the wider community.”

Attendees were able to explore effective strategies for recruitment and retention of disabled employees, share good practice and learn what works. To find out more about how your business can become disability confident, please contact Richard Morgan in the Barnstaple team on 01271 375402 or visit www.pluss.org.uk

1.   Pictured (L to R) Nick Harvey MP, Steve Hawkins (Pluss), Martin Mogford (SWM), Graham Campbell (Atlas Packaging) and Sami Caglar (SFL chimneys)