The Lion Inn is a busy hotel and restaurant in Boreham, Essex, that, in one guise or another, has been providing food and shelter to weary travellers for hundreds of years.
The old inn was fully refurbished and extended in 2008, including the addition of 15 guest rooms. In 2015 a beautifully presented function space for up to 150 people and a further eight bedrooms were added – known as 'The Lion House.' The original building with its low ceiling, beams, and now decorative fireplace has been retained and is fondly referred to as 'the old pub.'
The Lion Inn welcomes over 3,000 customers weekly and employs over 140 people with different skills and attributes. They are a popular local employer that values efficiency, reliability, and teamwork, and its fair management style means they enjoy a low staff turnover. Neither are they newcomers to inclusive recruitment, having employed Al, a gentleman with learning disabilities, for over 12 years.
When ECL Inclusive Employment Consultant Caroline Giess approached them at their open day about the possibility of employing customer Sarah Jennings, they were immediately receptive to the idea. Head Chef Adam Pope commented, "there are so many people in the world who can work with the right support, and I want to offer those opportunities within our Lion family."
Sarah, who lives with autism and profound deafness, was offered a work trial instead of a traditional interview, allowing her to showcase her prowess in the kitchen without the pressure of an interview. She did herself proud, demonstrating impressive knife skills, and was offered a job as a Prep Chef!
The team at The Lion Inn was agreeable to having a BSL interpreter provided by the Royal Association for the Deaf, at the work trial and on every shift since then. Adam commented, "we are fortunate enough to have large kitchens to accommodate the interpreter that is crucial to our communication with Sarah and enabling her to work in the midst of the kitchen team. We are keen that she feels a part of the team and is not in any way isolated; in fact, we always start our day with a team breakfast which Sarah thoroughly enjoys".
ECL's Inclusive Employment team has been at Sarah's side throughout her journey and worked closely with the Lion team to support her through the induction and training period. Elena Johns, Head of People at The Lion Inn, ensured Sarah received a warm welcome, giving her a full tour of the site and introducing her to the rest of her colleagues. She also put in place the necessary risk assessments to keep Sarah safe at work.
"Sarah has settled very well," Adam said, "she turns up to work early with a smile on her face and loves greeting the team. I set her work tasks, which the interpreter communicates to her, and she executes them with care and precision. The rest of my team are great and check up on Sarah throughout her shift, but she's very independent."
The Lion Inn General Manager, Leighanne Ship, echoes Adam's pleasure at having Sarah on board. She commented, "Sarah is a great asset to our team, she was recently a crucial part of a prep team making canapes for an important event, and she did brilliantly. We have high standards at The Lion Inn, there is no variation in those standards for Sarah, and she doesn't disappoint! It helps to know that the ECL team is on hand if needed, they have been amazing, and I look forward to our continued working relationship with them."
If you are a local business that is interested in becoming an inclusive employer, don't hesitate to get in touch with Sue Wray, ECL Inclusive Employment Business Manager, by emailing email@example.com
To find out more about ECL's Inclusive Employment Service, see ecl.org/inclusive-employment
For more information about The Lion Inn, visit: www.lioninnhotel.co.uk