The Royal Pavilion Tearoom will be familiar to many visitors who use it as a place for a tasty and refreshing break during their tour of the building. But over the last few years it has also helped people with learning difficulties and other disabilities, by working with Brighton & Hove City Council’s Supported Employment Team. One recent success has been Jade Marshall, who progressed from a 12 week placement to becoming a regular member of the team. Peter Brooks, Catering Manager, explains how the Royal Pavilion became involved in the scheme, and how it’s been a valuable experience for the team.
A member of the Supported Learning team came into the Tearoom ‘off duty’ and had a cream tea. Afterwards, she introduced herself and we discussed the possibility of a work placement, and the suitability of the Tearoom as a placement for someone with learning difficulties.
I thought it was a great idea which worked on many levels, all of them positives. In the last 5 years there have been several placements set up and all have had a degree of success and brought different challenges with each.
For the person on the placement it’s the opportunity to try out a new job, a new experience, meet new people, learn new skills, be part of a team, build self worth and confidence, and leave with an up to date reference. It is not without its challenges and staff are pretty important in setting the right tone. There have certainly been occasions when the pressure of working in a commercial environment has proved too much and people have moved on, but even in those circumstances, I’m told by the supported employment team that the experience alone is beneficial.
For my immediate colleagues in the tearoom it has similar benefits, and I dare say that it brings out a good nature that wants to help and look after others. I think this sends out a good message to colleagues and customers alike, and this must reflect positively beyond the Tearoom.
Jade has been asked to speak about her experience as an inspiration to others with learning difficulties which she thoroughly enjoys. She tells me that she always tells people to come to lunch at the Pavilion and I’ve actually had a few bookings via Jade! Obviously, the tearoom team have helped, but basically Jade’s worked hard and never let me down.
I would recommend this to other people, but I recognise that it’s not for everyone. But I would honestly say its been a great experience for us and given the right circumstances, it’s something I’m committed to continue with.
Peter Brooks, Catering Manager