Two neuro-diverse young adults, Nat and Louis, gave local businesses a heart-warming insight into the vital role of supported employment at a seminar on Wednesday 12 October at the De La Warr Pavilion.

Each spoke enthusiastically about their work at Strive Café and Little Gate Farm, stressing how much it meant to them to be in paid employment and financially independent.

Hosted by Bexhill Chamber of Commerce, the Inclusive Employment seminar introduced local employers, particularly those facing recruitment challenges, to the untapped potential of a neurodiverse workforce.

Howard Martin, President, Bexhill Chamber of Commerce said: ‘The seminar was hugely informative, busted a lot of myths and really brought home the opportunity for local businesses of employing enthusiastic and skilled neuro-diverse young adults like Nat and Louis.’


At the seminar, Mary Briggs, Director of Strive Café, discussed how the café bridges the gap between college and employment, providing paid work for young people with learning disabilities and giving them the experience to go on and secure hospitality roles elsewhere. And Andrea Randall-Smith, CEO of Little Gate Farm, which finds paid jobs for neuro-diverse adults in a wide range of sectors, emphasised the care taken to match the right person to the right role and explained how job coaches provided by the charity smooth the experience for both the employee and employer.

With only 6% of people with learning disabilities in the UK currently in paid employment, Victoria Bevis, Legal Director of EMW Law LLP outlined the business case for inclusivity. While Stewart Drew, Director and CEO of the De La Warr Pavilion, impressed on the audience how employing two Little Gate Farm apprentices had been an enriching experience for the whole organisation and transformative in its approach to inclusivity.


Andrea Randall-Smith said: ‘This event means so much to local organisations like Strive Café and Little Gate and, most importantly, to those adults who need the paid employment. The impact of this type of work is huge – it reaches and supports locally but also impacts on a national level.’

The seminar photography was taken by Sam Kirimli, an award-winning photographer with autism whose work is exhibited and sold at Strive Café.

To find out more about the work of Little Gate Farm and Strive Cafe, explore, or pop into Strive Café on Sackville Road.

View a film about De La Warr Pavilion’s Little Gate Farm apprentices here.

Posted by Luke on Monday 24 October 2022