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CLARITY was established over 160 years ago, back in 1854, with the aim to enable blind people with the means to independence through employment. We are now a pan-disability organisation but our overall mission has not changed. Nor, in fact has the need for it, with current UK employment rates for disabled people at less than 50%. For someone with multiple barriers or a complex disability the chances for employment are often less than one in 10.
At CLARITY we are very aware that a job, especially for someone with a disability, is often much more than simply a wage packet. It is an opportunity for the person to prove themselves and to feel part of, and a contributor to, society. With this comes an increase in confidence and self esteem, a reduction in reliance on others - often family - and a heightened sense of ambition. There are other knock-on benefits too; the health, and in fact even the average life expectancy, of people in long term employment improves significantly.
The CLARITY model of employment is fairly simple. We run a toiletries and cleaning products social enterprise and the revenue from everything we sell is reinvested to create more job opportunities. We operate on as commercial a basis as possible ensuring that the skills and experience someone gains at CLARITY can be transferred elsewhere should that person be given a chance to move on. It is often the “evidence of employability” that is missing on the CV of a disabled person. This, coupled with the perception of the “risk” that is often associated with employing someone with a disability, means they are frequently overlooked in the selection process; a process that often can be difficult to access for such a person. The application process can, for example, preclude someone who is visually impaired or has a learning difficulty, and the traditional interview system may not be well suited to someone with Asperger Syndrome or autism. At CLARITY we give someone the chance to achieve and work hard with employers to demonstrate what people can do, rather than what they can’t. Through our experience we know that people with a disability are reliable, dedicated employees who become assets to the organisations in which they work.
Our perception is that things are slowly changing. Increasingly, good organisations are aware of their place in society and of the need to reflect it in their business practices. Being socially responsible is becoming good for business as well as the “right thing to do”.
Sometimes the perception of organisations like CLARITY is that all we do is pack boxes. We actually operate a complete “Concept to Counter” service. Our customers come to us with an idea or rough concept then we can create new formulations, source componentry, design the labelling and packaging and then bring it all together to deliver them a whole new range. Our location in the UK plus the fact we only procure from UK suppliers also helps reduce the carbon footprint.
The “Citras” range for Saga cruise ships was created in such a way. “It was a pleasure working through the development process with CLARITY in order to get exactly the right product for our passengers. We are delighted with the end results,” said Ross Furlong, Director, Saga Shipping Company Ltd.
The added bonus for Saga, and for all our customers, is that we provide an annual accreditation with the amount of social impact generated through our inclusion in the supply chain. We have a fully audited process by which the volume and price of all orders is converted into a metric of “number of days of employment generated” (for disabled people).
CLARITY’s vision is that everyone in the country should be given the opportunity for employment regardless of the complexity of their barriers. It is an ambitious target but one that we know we can help achieve, though training and upskilling, help with recruitment and the opportunity to create employment via the supply chain. Our challenge is finding the best commercial partners to help deliver this vision.