Sodexo has a proud history of making the workplace accessible to people who may experience barriers to finding and maintaining paid employment, or actively playing a part in the workplace. Outlined below are examples of how Sodexo’s team in Ireland works with a range of charities to uncover the kinds of jobs people would like to do, and find suitable opportunities.
Kieran Coleman and Valerie Crotty have been working for Sodexo at GSK Dungarven for eight and 18 years respectively. Sodexo first heard about Kieran and Valerie through Carriglea Cáirde Services who provide services to adults with learning disabilities. Both are vital members of the restaurant team, cleaning tables and trays, sweeping and washing floors, and keeping front and back of house areas absolutely spotless. “Kieran & Valerie work so well within the catering team,” says chef manager Linda McCarthy. “Kieran is always looking for more cleaning to do! We’ve had various inspections where we’ve been complimented on our cleanliness – he helps us get results. Valerie is great, and she’s learning new skills too.”
Learning for Life is Diageo’s global programme designed to inspire and transform the lives of people in the communities it operates in. With a focus on adult education, the programme operates in partnership with local educational, governmental, and training organisations. Sodexo is proud to be part of Learning for Life and, so far, has supported four candidates on work placements in the St James’ Gate and Dundalk sites. The programme involves a seven-week vocational learning course before the work placement, which offers experience in a range of roles on site over four weeks. A three-month paid work placement then follows.
Six work experience candidates have spent time with the PayPal Dundalk team since 2013, thanks to links with local charity Rehab Care. Sodexo runs a 12-week programme for individuals with disabilities, to introduce them into the workplace. To date, three programmes have run, each inviting two people at a time to work two days per week from 10am until 2pm, assisting the catering team. “It’s given us all a better understanding and awareness of mental health issues,” explains general services manager Shirley Collins. “Our recruits have embraced the tasks we’ve given them and showed great pride and flawless attention to detail. And we can help equip them with basic knowledge in the catering industry both in health and safety and food safety. I would recommend any manager to explore programmes like this in their local areas – it’s been a really enriching experience for our staff.”
Bernie is 48 and has experienced mental health issues for 17 years. She worked in an office and as a waitress before becoming ill, but hasn’t worked since. The team at All Hallows College was delighted to have Bernie join them on a work placement last summer. She worked a four-hour shift every day for four weeks assisting in setting tables for 150 lunch covers, stocking fridges, polishing cutlery, clearing lunch tables and filling the dishwasher. Catering manager Leonard Stafford says Bernie was really positive about the experience and enjoyed the routine of having to get up every morning and prepare for work. “The daily social interaction helped improve Bernie’s confidence,” he says. “She also picked up new skills around food hygiene regulations. As a team we learnt that you can add a lot of value to the life of a person affected by mental illness.”