Sage Apprentices and Disability Forum strive for excellent Customer Service

21/02/2012 - Article by Boston College

Last Thursday, 11 members of Boston Disability Forum enjoyed a fantastic lunch as part of a Customer Service and Access Audit at Boston College’s Sage Restaurant in Spalding. The Staff and Apprentices at Sage Restaurant aim to deliver exceptional customer service to all customers, of all abilities. This innovative partnership with the Community & Voluntary Sector was a perfect opportunity for the Apprentices to share the knowledge and previous experiences of local residents, with the aim of improving and raising customer care in the Catering Industry, amongst the next generation of Catering Professionals.

The meeting encompassed a practical learning opportunity to serve customers with a range of disabilities including physical, mobility, hearing and visual impairments, together with other hidden disabilities. Following the meal, the Apprentices joined in an open discussion around the table, which allowed the forum to share good and bad dining experiences with them, whilst encouraging any questions.

As a result of the day, the Apprentices gained improved confidence in providing their service to people with disabilities, and took on board the constructive comments, which they are able to take forward into their careers, to ensure anybody with a disability is treated with dignity, respect and understanding when dining out.

In return, members of the Disability Forum went away with a positive view of young people and a greater appreciation of the workload and pressures they face in the catering and hospitality industry. The Secretary of Boston Disability Forum, Rebecca Wood said, "We were delighted to be invited to Sage Restaurant in Spalding. The members thought the students did very well indeed. Today's meal, (which was absolutely delicious by the way, we recommend you go!) was an ingenious idea and a proactive approach for the Catering Students to learn how to deal with a diverse clientele, considering the forum’s members have many forms of disability from physical and sensory to hidden disabilities. The students were ambassadors to Boston College and certainly took our needs seriously, but in their stride. On behalf of the forum we would like to whole heartedly thank the students, cooks, chefs, front of house and managers for their kind service and delicious food. Finally, credit to Frank Hanson, Boston College’s Equality and Diversity Manager, for arranging this event.”

Boston Disability Forum is run entirely by volunteers, with the support of Lincolnshire Community & Voluntary Service. The Forum aims to educate people and increase awareness of barriers that are faced by the disabled, while seeking to promote user participation and representation at all levels within our society. Frank Hanson, Equality and Diversity Manager at Boston College is a representative of the forum, he commented on the event and said, “We would like to express our thanks to the Boston Disability Forum for agreeing to take part in this exciting initiative. Lectures or reading alone cannot beat the first hand, practical knowledge of the potential difficulties and challenges faced by people with disabilities. The Forum will be producing a report highlighting their experience, which will be shared with our students to further improve their learning and understanding.”

This successful event is one of many that is essential to strengthening valuable relationships as part of the College’s continuous commitment to Equality and Diversity.

If you would like more information about a Catering Apprenticeship at Sage Restaurant please contact Sally Tebbs on 07880 584738 or email sally-t@boston.ac.uk

If you would like to join the forum (it's FREE and you don't have to be disabled to join) please do not hesitate to contact us. A warm welcome awaits you!