With the lead up to the prestigious 2019 KEiBAs (Kent Excellence in Business Awards), and the launch of the new Valuing Disability Business of the Year Award category, we have been speaking to businesses across Kent to find out how they value disability.

First up is the Pentagon Centre in Chatham.  In August 2018, bemix took over one of the units to run our Medway Supported Internships programme from.  Since then, we have been working together to find suitable work placements for some of our students on the programme.  Three students, Ben, Amy and Josh, are now on placements within the security and administration teams at the Pentagon Centre

We asked Charlene, the Deputy Centre Manager, how they view and value disability at The Pentagon Centre.

bemix - Tell us briefly about the type of work you do at the Pentagon Centre.

Pentagon Centre - Our role at the Pentagon is to manage the day to day running of the Shopping Centre. That’s looking after the customers, our tenants and also the members of public who visit their shops. We want to make coming to the Pentagon a safe, fun and interesting environment. So we look to put events on that will draw people in, provide amenities and services that are relevant and support the community. We look after the maintenance and cleaning of the building and the general running of it. This could be anything from the car park, securing the building, managing the toilets and paying the electricity bills.

bemix - What are your business beliefs about employment for people who are disabled and/or have a learning difficulty or autism?

Pentagon Centre - We believe that disability should have no boundaries. People with disabilities and autism should have the same opportunities to experience work life as everyone else has, which is why we are constantly working on how disability confident we are.

bemix - How does the way you work promote these beliefs? 

Pentagon Centre - Could you give some examples.We want everyone regardless of disability, illness etc. to feel welcome in coming to the Shopping Centre. We understand the community in Chatham and strive to be the hub for the town centre, where people not only come to shop but, eat, use the Youth Centre or play the Escape Room game. We feel it is important for our staff to have the right tools to be able to help everyone which is why we are so passionate about training. All staff are Dementia Friends, they have all completed the Purple training and autism awareness training. We received Autism Friendly Shopping Centre status from the NAS last year. We are also looking to bring a changing places toilet to the Centre. We want to be the innovators and make Chatham and the Pentagon welcoming to everyone.

bemix - How has being part of the Supported Internships programme with bemix had a impact on the way you work and value disability?

Pentagon Centre - Its definitely made us want to improve our understanding and if we can we would love to become disability confident at a greater level.

bemix - What have been the biggest challenges / benefits so far?

Pentagon Centre - I guess it depends on how you interpret challenges? We see challenges as opportunities. The benefits have been great, Amy has, (at only 2 weeks in) created a dent in our administration work load and our filing and archiving has never been so up to date!

bemix - What would you say to other businesses who are thinking about increasing their employment opportunities for people with learning difficulties and/or disabilities?

Pentagon Centre - We all have to start somewhere and everyone should have the opportunity to gain employment.

Click here to find out how your business could benefit from the
Supported Internships Programme.

Does your business value disability? Are you based in Kent?
Why not enter the KEiBAs and apply to win the Valuing Disability Business of the Year Award?  Deadline for entries - 22nd February.

Enter now