Charity advocates disabled staff

Disabled workers are actively recruited by a charity group.

Many grounds maintenance workers with disabilities are better at their jobs than non-disabled staff, a disability charity has claimed. Shaw Trust Horticulture manager Kathee Pitt said: “We are better than a lot of landscape gardeners because we train people to NVQ amenity horticulture standard. “Employers are blinkered to people’s abilities. Anything that doesn’t fit the norm is frowned upon. The public needs to be educated. “We are actively recruiting people with disabilities.” Half of Shaw Trust Horticulture’s 10 Portsmouth-based staff have disabilities. Pitt said: “It’s an excellent workforce. We look for reliable people with skills and have no problem employing people with mental-health and learning disabilities. “We have large contracts with the NHS and local authorities where we compete against other businesses and win because our work is good. It all comes down to whether a person can do the work.” The company is responsible for grounds maintenance at three hospitals in Portsmouth and has won a £20,000 contract with the West Sussex NHS trust. Pitt added: “The Government is keen to get more people into work — the future looks bright for disabled gardeners, although there will always be people who are prejudiced. It’s purely their ignorance.” The Shaw Trust has a two-tick positive-discrimination system on its application forms. If applicants tick both boxes, indicating that they have disabilities, they automatically get an interview. The Portsmouth company turns over £250,000 a year.

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