Food for Thought Lunch for Hospitality Leaders.

Springboard, in partnership with Foxes Academy, The Camden Society and The Royal Academy of Culinary Arts recently held a sophisticated lunch hosted by Westminster Kingsway College, to promote the employment of people with learning disabilities within the hospitality industry.

Springboard has specialised programmes dedicated to helping young people with learning disabilities gain the skills needed to enter the world of work, training them in a variety of hospitality fields – including waiting, catering and housekeeping.

Currently, people with learning disabilities make up a disproportionately small amount of the workforce – with only 5.8% currently in paid employment. Unfortunately, some companies are still reluctant to hire people with a disability despite their hard work and skills. The lunch was aimed at demonstrating talent that could fill a pipeline the industry desperately needs. With the sector estimated to create 500,000 jobs within the next five years, these gifted individuals are an important resource.

Helen Smith, Operations Manager at The Camden Society, said “People with a learning disability are a skilled and untapped workforce able to meet the business needs of the hospitality industry. Employers can gain access to free and on-going support to ensure employment is successful. Simple changes are required to make recruitment and workplaces accessible, such as replacing traditional interviews with work trials to allow people to demonstrate their practical abilities.”

Tracey Clare-Gray, Foxes Academy’s Principal said “Employment doesn’t just ensure young disabled people live more fulfilling lives – it also brings benefits to employers and the economy. Spending by disabled people is worth £249 billion a year to the UK economy. Inclusive employment leads to increased staff morale, with a better team ethic. Disabled employees stay in a job for longer, have good punctuality records and low absentee rates. Loyalty, talent and enthusiasm are among the many assets they bring to work.”

Cured salmon ballotine, cucumber, beetroot and wasabi starter was prepared under the watchful eye of Liam Finnegan, head chef from Taunton’s Castle Hotel. The main course was stuffed Windsor pheasant breast, roasted shallot purée, cabbage and puy lentils, cooked and served under the guidance of Buckingham Palace chef, Mark Flanagan, with Sue Yates and Chris Basten, Lecturers in Culinary Arts at Westminster Kingsway College supporting the students to finish with vanilla panna cotta and tropical fruit salsa.

The chefs freely gave their support to show industry colleagues what is possible when working with hidden talent. Generous sponsorship for food, drink and uniforms was also donated by G & G Goodfellows, Ignition Brewery and Royal London Group.

Penny Mordaunt, MP and Minister for Disabled People, Health & Work, attended the lunch along with 100 of the top industry employers, renowned chef and President of The Royal Academy of Culinary Arts, Brian Turner CBE, and Cyrus Todiwala OBE.

Penny Mordaunt, Minister for Disabled People, Health and Work, said: “Disabled people make up almost a fifth of the working age population, and it’s crucial that the hospitality industry is not missing out on the skills, talents and personal qualities they can bring to the workplace.

“Today’s event goes to show that there is a huge pool of talent out there, and I urge all employers across the industry and beyond to help ensure the opportunity is there for everyone to reach their full potential.”

H&C NEWS Publisher, Denis Sheehan attended the lunch and after enjoying the afternoon said: “The tone of the speakers today was inspiring, as the focus was on the business benefits of employing people with disabilities.

It was clear from the quality of service and the food that the people on duty today are competent and capable. Speakers from hotel groups and contract caterers testified to the financial benefits of employing people with disabilities. Employers reported significant benefits including…


Positive Work Ethic

Good Time Keeping in terms of days worked and punctuality

Productivity, working as team players

The effects of recruiting on ability, attitude and personality was positive and encouraging.

There was no charity on show, this was businesses applying business metrics to their human resources and reporting on the benefits experienced.”

The three courses everyone enjoyed on the day are below, our compliments to all the chefs!

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