Monday, 29 July 2013

Cambridge MP Visits Harry's Chocs Where Opportunities Are Sweet

Cambridge MP Julian Huppert, who has campaigned for companies to employ people with autism, will visit a unique business on Wednesday (July 31) which exists to do just that.

Sawston-based Harry Specters provides luxurious handmade chocolates while at the same time offering job opportunities for young people on the autism spectrum.

The company was established by Mona Shah, who has a teenage son on the autism spectrum.

Mona  had been working with chocolate as a hobby for the past 15 years and had undertaken a professional chocolate making course at the internationally renowned Callebaut Chocolate Academy.

She had the idea to combine her passion for chocolate with a business which would provide employment for young people with autism.

As a social enterprise, 60 pence from every pound of profit the company makes is set aside for furthering the social aims of the business, providing social activities for   employees and opportunities for their personal development.

Mona said: “We are changing the lives of people with autism. Working with us gives them the freedom to unleash their unique perspective, creativity and skills. This combined with our passion for unique, handmade chocolates will give our customers a unique experience – a great cause and great chocolates.”

Julian, who employed a young man with an autism-spectrum condition in his Cambridge constituency office for a couple of years, will visit the business to find out more about its work and the opportunities on offer for young people.

He supported the National Autistic Society’s Undiscovered Workforce campaign, joining
forces with Cambridge Regional College and the city’s JobCentre Plus to promote the benefits of employing people with autism.

“I know from first-hand experience how valuable, bright and resourceful these people can be,” said Julian, “yet there is a whole potential workforce in our country which cannot find jobs because employers haven’t taken the time to understand the condition or put the support in place to employ them. These companies are missing out by not considering these people who are often highly intelligent and have achieved a high level of education.

“I am interested to hear about Mona’s experiences and find out more about how she is helping young people taking their places in the working environment.”