Finance

Firm that hired refugees at Gloucestershire factory wins award


A clothes manufacturer that has employed two Syrian refugees at its Gloucestershire factory is among 13 organisations in the county to be recognised for building an inclusive culture in the workplace.

Fashion entrepreneur Emma Willis, whose eponymous brand specialises in dress shirts that it sells from its Jermyn Street store in London, took on Ibrahim and Nareem at her company’s workroom in Bearland House, an 18th century town house in Gloucester’s historics centre.

Ms Willis was introduced to the pair, who previously worked in the tailoring industry in their home country before fleeing its civil war, through an initiative to help diverse groups of people who have struggled to find work.

The company received one of the first Gloucestershire Inclusive Employers Awards which were presented at an event held at Gloucester Services on Wednesday (October 6).

The awards were held as part of the Inclusivity Works campaign launch by the Go the Extra Mile (GEM) project, which managed by Gloucestershire Gateway Trust on behalf of Gloucestershire County Council.

Ms Willis said: “As a manufacturing fashion business, Gloucester is such a great city to employ as there is so much creative talent enriched by the many refugees who are welcomed and settled in by exemplary organisations such as the GEM Project, Gloucestershire Action for Refugees (GARAS) and Asylum Seekers, City Farm and The Friendship Cafe.

“I met the extraordinarily talented tailor and craftsman Ibrahim through GARAS and the GEM Project, who came with his young family from war torn Syria where he had lost his home and business.

“We have now employed Ibrahim for three years and he has been an invaluable addition to our business, leading our Net a Porter production.”

Other organisations to be recognised for embedding an inclusive workforce included the Cheltenham branch of optician chain Specsavers.

The event’s host Gloucester Services received an award for its Bridging The Gap programme, a course that offers pre-employment support and a guaranteed interview to people who may normally find traditional recruitment processes challenging.

Hayley Dolling, people business partner at Gloucester Services said being part of the initiative had been a “great benefit” to the business, which runs a farm shop, kitchen and fuel services.

Ms Dolling said: “We have gained valuable colleagues who without this opportunity to meet us, may not have made it through our traditional recruitment process.

“It is not just for those dedicated to looking for a role, but also provides a good personal development opportunity for interviewing and work experience. We are very much looking forward to supporting our next group later in October.”

The full list of organisation to win Gloucestershire Inclusive Employer awards:

  • Art Shape (Brockworth)
  • Caring for Communities and People (CCP) (Cheltenham)
  • Emma Willis Ltd (Gloucester)
  • GARAS (Gloucester)
  • Gloucester Services (Brookthorpe)
  • Gloucestershire County Council
  • Gloucester Deaf Association (Gloucester)
  • GL11 (Cam, Dusrlsey)
  • GL Communities (Maston, Gloucester)
  • Inclusion Gloucestershire, (Gloucester)
  • Specsavers, opticians, (Cheltenham)
  • The Nelson Trust, (Stroud)

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