Kitchen possible?

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If you watched the TV documentary Kitchen Impossible, you are bound to have been left with more than just an impression of the pressures involved in the catering industry.

The series followed a group of disabled people learning the ropes under the guidance of Michel Roux Jr. And it exposed many of the everyday challenges that face those with disabilities, not least when it comes to employment.

And this is timely. The Government is in the midst of trying to halve the employment gap between disabled and non-disabled people and wants businesses to provide more opportunities to those who might otherwise be left out of the marketplace.

This is against the backdrop of some employers’ nervousness around learning disabilities, as a survey by Mencap and Inclusive Employers has revealed. Concern about interaction between customers and staff was highlighted, as well as concern among 23% of the 60 or so UK businesses surveyed that not all colleagues would feel happy about working with someone with a learning disability.

While some of these statistics may make for uncomfortable reading, one of the themes that emerges is more positivity among those organisations that have employed people with learning disabilities.

There will be some way to go before there is wholesale change both in attitudes and in the statistics. But as knowledge and awareness grows, it’s hoped that more employers will embrace the benefits of a workplace that is open to all.