The Kingslodge Inn visit is just the job for Hedley College students
A group of disabled young people have had their job-seeking prospects boosted thanks to Durham city pub, The Kingslodge Inn.
Students from Hedley’s College, part of The Percy Hedley Foundation, were given an insider insight into the hospitality industry during a behind the scenes visit to the Flass Vale pub with rooms.
The access-all-areas tour gave the 18-25-year-olds - who have multiple learning disabilities, including cerebral palsy and autism - a chance to see how each section of The Kingslodge Inn operates, from housekeeping to check in and from front-of-house to the kitchen and to learn about the range of skills needed to work in the industry.
The students enjoyed hands-on interaction, taste testing new dishes with sous chef Ashley Turner and rolling up their sleeves to help prepare rooms with the housekeeping team during the visit organised by The Kingslodge Inn’s general manager, Leanne Jeffrey.
Leanne invited the students to The Kingslodge Inn, part of multi-award winning leisure operators The Inn Collection Group, after learning about the college’s work to help disabled young people boost their job prospects across the region.
Leanne said: “I absolutely believe in helping young people who are keen and enthusiastic better their chances of entering into the workplace.
“I’m sure we can all remember a time when someone went out of their way to help us along our career journey and I felt it was important to do my bit to help such bright and motivated young people who refuse to be held back by their personal barriers.
“I was really struck by how confident and enthusiastic the students were. They would be an absolute asset in the workplace and we are looking at ways to work further with Percy Hedley to offer work experience and apprenticeships to students from the college.
“The hospitality industry is a particularly good area for disabled people as there are so many different paths you can go down, from housekeeping, to working in the kitchen, waiting, bar work, reception duties, and front of house.
Dionne Smith is Employment Project Officer at The Percy Hedley Foundation. She works to help employers become more disability confident and organise work placements, visits and workshops to break down any barriers for students and employers.
She said: “Leanne was really keen to get the students involved. We thought we would start with the visit and then look at the possibility of placements that can be specially tailored for our students.
“The students were all really keen to find out what roles there were in the pub and its rooms and how they could get involved.
“All the students approached the visit positively and responded really well. I hope going forward we can build closer ties with The Kingslodge Inn and The Inn Collection Group. It’s a fantastic opportunity for everyone to develop a deeper relation and help bridge the gap for young people with additional needs to go from full-time education into employment.”
For Curtis Curry, 20, who has Achondroplasia, a form of Dwarfism of the spine, The Kingslodge Inn visit was a course highlight and confirmed he wants to pursue a career in the hospitality sector.
He said: “I loved how big the kitchen was and I like making the food and getting to look round the bedrooms and seeing how big they were. I loved having a turn pushing the trolley and getting the bed linen. I want to get a job here!”