On Friday 2nd September, Alex Chalk, the MP for Cheltenham, hosted a ‘Disability Confident’ event to encourage local employers to recruit people with disabilities.
The event, which was organised by Mr Chalk and the Department for Work and Pensions, formed part of the Government’s ‘Disability Confident’ campaign, the aim of which is to challenge attitudes towards disability, increase understanding and remove barriers to disabled people in the workplace. Over the past 2 years, many companies have become disability confident and since the launch of the campaign in 2013, the number of disabled people in work nationally has increased by 365,000.
Ten stalls were set up at the event, which took place from 2.30-4.30pm at St Vincent’s and St George’s, as well as more than thirty Cheltenham employers. Throughout the afternoon, employers were given the opportunity to hear from a number of different stakeholders, including the Government’s approved Access to Work providers, who provide funding and training to help disabled people re-enter the workplace. Similarly, a number of local employers, including the University of Gloucestershire, were able to offer a frank assessment of the benefits and challenges they faced when employing disabled people, whilst the DWP themselves were on hand to answer any other questions.
Alex commented: “I was delighted to host Cheltenham’s first ever Disability Confident Fair and it was fantastic to speak with so many enthusiastic employers. Employment levels are at an all-time high, but it is crucial to ensure opportunities are available to people with disabilities. In many cases, businesses are keen to recruit those with disabilities, but often there is an element of caution or a lack of understanding which prevents them from following through. The Disability Confident Fair aimed to address some of these concerns and provide employers with the necessary information to take the first steps towards the recruitment of people with disabilities . Any employers who were not able to attend the event and who are seeking more information on this issue can contact me via email. ”