Zest staff completes disability awareness training

How do you define disability? This was the opening question at the Disability Awareness Training for the Zest staff on 25 June, 2014. The training was led by Lee-Ann from the Fife Council Supported Employment Services. The staff learnt that a disability is a physical or mental condition that limits a person’s movements, senses, or activities, and that 1 in 6 people in the UK have a disability. At Zest, working alongside people with disabilities is a reality and it will continue to be as Zest strives to become a training ground for people facing barriers either physical, mental or social. Through teaching and training, Zest provides the opportunity for employees to gain work experience, develop useful skills, and increase confidence. In order to accomplish this effectively, it is important for the entire Zest staff to be aware of the business’ goals and be willing to contribute. Fourteen of the fifteen staff attended the four hour training and with the help of Lee-Ann, each staff member walked away with a deeper understanding of disability awareness.

“I found the whole evening very informative. Not only did we learn about mental illnesses and learning difficulties and how they affect people, but I feel that we had our minds opened to see that these conditions affect everyone in different ways. I definitely feel more aware of how to help support someone who has a mental illness or learning difficulties.” – Lynsey Mitchell

The training focused on working alongside people with disabilities as well as how Zest can better serve customers with disabilities. One of the Zest staff, Kristina Berry, found the customer portion of the training very useful. “The training taught me how to tailor my service to meet the needs of customers with a wide range of disabilities,” says Berry. We were reminded that patience is important. Sometimes serving customers with disabilities will take longer, but we do what we can do accommodate their needs because we want them to have a good experience. What about the experience of the majority of our customers without disabilities? I asked the owner of Zest, Lisa Cathro, if employing people with disabilities affects our general customers’ experience. She stated, “our regular customers love that they can support us to employ and enable people with learning difficulties. The problem arises with new customers and day visitors who don’t understand what we are doing as a business so we need to work on communicating that better through internal signage and more PR.”
I also asked Lisa why the disability awareness training was important to her and she responded by saying the training was very successful and she felt the training made the team more cohesive, understanding, and more open about issues some may be experiencing or have experienced in the past.
Lee-Ann did an excellent job teaching the staff and after completing the training myself, I believe it would be useful for every work place to undergo disability awareness training.

For more information on the Social Work Supported Employment Service (SWSES), check out the Council’s web page at the link below: