Southwark apprentice, Junior Standley won the award for individual achievement at .the annual London Legacy Development Corporation Apprenticeship Awards held at City Hall last week.
Junior, who is autistic, is half-way through his apprenticeship. Junior won the individual achievement award. He began with very little experience and is now working towards a Level 2 NVQ. He has grown in confidence and uses his energy and beaming smile to great effect as part of the front of house team at Lodge team and Unity family. Junior’s mentor, Marina Salvia, won a nomination for her excellence in mentoring and supporting apprentices too.
Commenting, Junior says of his award:
“Winning the ‘Individual Achievement Award’ was the proudest moment of my whole life, I felt like I was at the Brit Awards. It made me realise that I am doing a fantastic job and how important the apprenticeship is to me and my future career. Winning the award has improved my confidence and I now know that I can go and get a job in customer service anywhere I would like. I have made some great friends at Unity Kitchen through the apprenticeship scheme and we’ll stay in touch with each other after we graduate.”
Meanwhile Junior’s employer Unity Kitchen Cafe’s award for equalities and inclusion recognises the way it has developed new ways to enable disabled people to start their career as apprentices. Along the way it has far exceeded industry norms with apprentices accounting for 16% of its workforce and people with learning disabilities accounting for 40% of the team.
Unity Kitchen’s Social Enterprise Service Manager, Amy McParland, comments:
“Giving opportunities to people with learning difficulties to get into the world of catering and hospitality is what we are all about. And it’s a huge boost to everyone at Unity Kitchen Cafe – and all of our other outlets – to win recognition for the way we go about it. We are proud, not just of winning this award, but also to be contributing to the legacy of the 2012 London Olympic Games through the training, apprenticeship and job opportunities we are helping to create.”
Unity Kitchen is a chain of catering social enterprises run by a registered charity, The Camden Society. The outlets provide training and apprenticeship opportunities for people with learning disabilities, and profits are used to fund further training and employment opportunities. Unity Kitchens are run in partnership with community and public sector organisations in public buildings, community centres, libraries and museums. The first café on Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park will be operated by the Camden Society and is named Unity Kitchen Café. www.unitykitchen.co.uk