We’ve long known Bluewater, RBLI and Twilight Cleaning made the top three for the brand new KEiBA award Valuing Disability Business of the Year. The big reveal was saved for the spectacular gala dinner, with Bluewater taking the top spot!

bemix Directors Steve Chapman and Matt Clifton were present as co- judges of the award alongside Thomas Lovell and Alicia Moyles from co-sponsors The Education People. Steve, who has a learning difficulty and is a supported employment champion, was inspired to see disabled staff “seen and heard” engaging centre visitors. Bluewater uses party language, and employs people with mental health conditions, autism and learning difficulties as ‘hosts’ greeting ‘guests’. We were moved to hear how a colleague with ME was supported and valued through very difficult times. What really impressed us is that the centre isn’t just being nice! It’s a serious business, raising the quality of its disability-friendly guest services through recruiting and valuing disabled employees. Meeting nine of the team at the gala dinner reminded us that Bluewater workforce loyalty and motivation are off-the-scale because of the values-based approach to business. Steve adds “Now we want Bluewater’s values and the award to influence retailers in the centre to do the same!”

“Now we want Bluewater’s values and the award to influence retailers in the centre to do the same!” - Steve Chapman

Finalists RBLI and Twilight Cleaning are also superb businesses with a commercial cutting edge brought by disabled workers. RBLI amazed us with their skill in adapting jobs to bring out the best in people, with an entire pathway from basic to complex roles. The sense of pride from people in themselves and the social enterprise really made its mark on us. 

Big and small businesses were on a level playing field in the award, with Twilight achieving finalist status with just a handful in the workforce. We loved hearing firsthand how valued and more confident people felt. An autistic employee was renowned locally for his meticulous approach to cleaning a public toilet, enhancing the quality and reputation of the company.

We hope this KEiBA award will spark a bigger conversation in Kent about the business benefits of employing disabled people.

If you’re in business, why not give it a try yourself? We have a skilled, easy-access offer to employers. Start the journey now and who knows, the award could be yours in the future! Contact Mark at [email protected] or on 01227 374285 / 07419 113773.

Banner photo: bemix Directors Steve and Matt with Laura Napper, Managing Director of Twilight Cleaning

Photo below: KEiBA Award Finalists