Weston pier supports Richard Branson's plea to help people with autism find employment

PUBLISHED: 18:00 27 August 2019

Adam Baker, aged 24, has autism and found employment at Weston's Grand Pier.

Adam Baker, aged 24, has autism and found employment at Weston's Grand Pier.

Weston's Grand Pier.

'You are unique, you do have talent, use it' says Adam Baker who is autistic and works at Weston's Grand Pier, which is doing its part to support people with the disorder in the workplace.

Sir Richard Branson has urged employers to do more to help autistic people in employment, stating those with the condition have cognitive abilities which are 'vital to any business' but are 'repeatedly overlooked'.

Now, the Grand Pier wants to highlight the benefits made to the company since it started to employ people on the spectrum.

Adam, aged 24, grew up in Weston and has been a retail assistant at the pier since October 2017.

He was diagnosed with autism, a condition which affects verbal communication and key life-skill development, when he was two years old and was non-verbal for the first five years of his life.

Weston mum Deborah Branovits and her autistic son Matthew, aged 11.                    Picture: Weston's Grand PierWeston mum Deborah Branovits and her autistic son Matthew, aged 11. Picture: Weston's Grand Pier

He completed a three-year performing arts course at Weston College followed by an aspirations programme, but once finished struggled to find employment.

Adam said: "I was not very confident when I started my job, and I do have anxiety issues sometimes, but I was made to feel very welcome here and I really do enjoy it at the pier."

MORE: Weston pier launches quiet hour for people with sensory conditions



Figures from the national autistic society reveal only 16 percent of autistic adults are in full-time employment in the UK and there are an estimated 700,000 people affected by the condition across the country.

Adam continued: "I would like to say a huge thank you to Kerry and Michelle Michael, Paul, Sue and the rest of the team for giving me this chance.

"It has helped to improve my confidence when talking to people and has taught me some new skills, and it's so important people like me are given a chance to work and show what we can do."

Retail manager at Weston's Grand Pier, Sue Waller, said: "As an employer, it's very satisfying to see how someone's confidence improves with time, which enables them to do their job even better."

"The pier has a number of team members who are on the autism spectrum, and gaining an understanding of the condition has introduced benefits to our business, as well as creating new opportunities for our employees.

"I would encourage other businesses to think in the same way, as people with autism have so much to offer."

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