An apprentice with autism working at Southwark’s Unity Kitchen has won the award for individual achievement at the annual London Legacy Development Corporation Apprenticeship Awards.
Junior Standley is halfway through his apprenticeship and was honoured for his efforts at the awards ceremony, which was held at City Hall earlier this month.
“Winning the ‘Individual Achievement Award’ was the proudest moment of my whole life, I felt like I was at the Brit Awards,” said Standley. “It made me realise that I am doing a fantastic job and how important the apprenticeship is to me and my future career.
“Winning the award has improved my confidence and I now know that I can go and get a job in customer service anywhere I would like. I have made some great friends at Unity Kitchen through the apprenticeship scheme and we’ll stay in touch with each other after we graduate.”
His mentor, Marina Salvia, also received a nomination for her excellence in mentoring and supporting apprentices while Unity Kitchen Cafe’s award for equalities and inclusion recognised the way it has “developed new ways to enable disabled people to start their career as apprentices”.
Unity Kitchen’s social enterprise service manager, Amy McParland, said: “Giving opportunities to people with learning difficulties to get into the world of catering and hospitality is what we are all about. And it’s a huge boost to everyone at Unity Kitchen Cafe – and all of our other outlets – to win recognition for the way we go about it.
“We are proud, not just of winning this award, but also to be contributing to the legacy of the 2012 London Olympic Games through the training, apprenticeship and job opportunities we are helping to create.”
Since being setup in 2010 as a sustainable and self-sufficient way of generating money to fund The Camden Society’s efforts to deliver housing support, employment and community services, Unity Kitchen has seen apprentices accounting for 16% of its workforce and people with learning disabilities accounting for 40% of the team.