“Many benefits” to working with autistic staff, says Grand Pier

Adam Baker Grand Pier working with Autistic staff
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The pier in Weston employs a number of staff with autism, who managers say, are a valuable asset to the business.


In marking Mencap’s Learning Disability Week recently, the Grand Pier in Weston-super- Mare has highlighted the role it plays as a place of opportunity for staff with autism.

Earlier this year Sir Richard Branson urged employers and educators to “do more to make the most of the untapped potential” of people with conditions like autism “to allow people to flourish”.

His words are echoed by managers at Weston-super- Mare’s Grand Pier, who have seen for themselves what a huge difference being given a chance can make to someone on the autism spectrum.

Adam Baker, aged 24, is one of several autistic people who work at the iconic seafront attraction.

Adam has been a retail assistant on the Grand Pier since October 2017, and says he thoroughly enjoys his job.

“My confidence at job interviews was not brilliant and this went against me,” Baker said of his search for employment, adding that he was “very pleased” to be offered a role at the pier.

“I was not very confident to start with, and I do have anxiety issues sometimes, but I was made to feel very welcome here and I really enjoy my job,” he remarked.

Baker went on to report that his new job had helped improve his confidence both in his work-based skills and in his communication with other people, which can be difficult with some on the autism spectrum. But apparently Adam’s condition also has some benefits within the professional context.

“I hate clutter and I like to follow certain routines,” he explained. “Sometimes, my manager allows me to open the shop in the morning. I always follow the correct procedure and order for doing this, as this is important.”

“I do not like leaving tasks unfinished, and I make sure I deal with one customer at a time. That can mean others have to wait a short time, but I always thank them for waiting when it’s their turn to be served,” he said.

Meanwhile, pier retail manager (and Adam’s boss) Sue Waller said that working with people on the autism spectrum had “introduced many benefits” to the business.

“Adam has a very positive attitude and takes pride in providing a warm welcome for our guests, which is very important for a family-focused attraction,” she said. “Mencap’s Learning Disability Week is about themes, one of which is ‘inclusion’, so perhaps this is a timely moment for other employers to think about giving people on the autism spectrum a chance, as they have so much to offer.”

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