Wetherspoon in St Austell (Cornwall) was presented with an award by charity Action for Blind People (Action), recognising good practice in employing a partially sighted person, on Wednesday 29 May. The ceremony took place at The Rann Wartha pub, Biddicks Court.
The ‘See the Capability, not the Disability’ award follows a nomination made by 35-year-old employee Sarah Reynolds. Sarah, who has the eye condition Degenerative Myopia, worked for Wetherspoon as a shift leader for over 5 years, before her sight started to deteriorate.
She has since benefited from the company’s commitment to create an environment that allows her to remain a valuable employee, regardless of visual impairment. The company’s Senior Personnel Manager, Owen Wacker, and her line manager, Chris Weeks, have both been very supportive, taking advice from Action and making necessary changes to her work environment.
This has included Sarah receiving a new a video magnifier, which means she can now read menus and labels on bottles easily.
Wetherspoon has also changed the lighting around her work space; especially around the coffee machine area, which helps her see better when making drinks and serves customers. Managers have also made sure that all colleagues are aware of her eye condition and that they work together to help Sarah if needed, keeping the pub neat and tidy, removing obstacles that Sarah might not see.
Her colleagues also make sure that she gets to work and home safely, and for nine months when Sarah was off work due to her sight deteriorating, Wetherspoon kept the job open for her.
Sarah says: “The support I get from Wetherspoon is fantastic. My line manager, area manager and personnel have gone above and beyond to ensure I have everything I need to continue my job. I can’t thank them enough. When I started to lose my sight, I was really scared I would have to give up work, but due to the help and support from Action and Wetherspoon, I’m able to stay in the job I really enjoy.”
Action for Blind People’s employment service offers guidance to all visually impaired people on making the most of their existing skills; building confidence to gain and retain employment. The charity provides practical support in looking for a job; arranges work experience and organises interview techniques training. Guidance is also available to employers.
Helen Adams, Employment Coordinator for Action for Blind People, said: “Wetherspoon has been incredible. They’ve supported Sarah through a difficult adjustment; their attitude, and consideration for her needs have been second to none. It is heartening to find an employer in the catering and hospitality sector who does not discriminate over grounds of health and safety and who is willing to make efforts to overcome the barriers presented by Sarah’s sight loss.
“Every day we help many people with sight loss to gain and retain employment, whilst promoting good practice amongst employers. Wetherspoon is a worthy recipient of our ‘See the Capability, not the Disability’ award.”
For further information about Action for Blind People’s employment support services in the South West, phone 01392 458060, email firstname.lastname@example.org or visit the charity’s website www.Actionforblindpeople.org.uk
Pictured (from left): Manager of The Rann Wartha pub, Chris Weeks, with visually impaired employee Sarah Reynolds, and Helen Adams from Action for Blind People.