A council-led pilot project that has helped over 20 Croydon people with disabilities get jobs or work placements is set to become a regular fixture.

Croydon council recently held its first specialist jobs fair where 25 skilled applicants with physical, learning, autism or mental health disabilities networked with around 20 visiting employers who pitched their vacancies in the retail, tourism and care sectors.

Called a reverse jobs fair because the employers circulate around the room visiting candidates instead of the other way around, the event was designed to increase recruiters’ awareness of what the candidates can offer and to improve applicants’ job prospects.

The event at the community space at the council’s Bernard Weatherill House offices, which was opened by the Mayor of Croydon, Councillor Wayne Trakas-Lawlor, has now led to:

• Four permanent jobs
• One apprenticeship offer
• One paid work placement
• Five work trials
• 14 offers of work experience

Now the council are planning a follow-up reverse jobs fair in June, as well as three disability awareness training days for local public and private sector employers that hire hundreds of local staff between them.

It was also announced at the reverse jobs fair that Croydon council have now been granted the status of Disability-Confident Employer; the second level accreditation given by the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) to employers that recruit and retain people with disabilities.

The reverse jobs fair was organised by Croydon  with support from South London and Maudsley NHS Foundation Trust, the DWP and the business and charitable sectors.

Robert Elston, chief executive of Status Employment, a specialist recruitment agency for people with severe and long-lasting mental health needs, said: “There was quite a buzz in the room, and it got the employers thinking because they had to sell themselves rather than the other way round.

“It was a great effort by Croydon council – to get around 20 organisations in the room was hugely impressive; normally you are lucky if you get two or three.”

Cllr Jamie Audsley, deputy cabinet member for the economy and jobs, said: “I’m really pleased that this reverse jobs fair was a success, and I look forward to us organising more events in 2017 that will continue to help borough residents with disabilities into work.”

Recruiters or disabled applicants wanting more information about future reverse jobs fairs can email: emma.shepherd@croydon.gov.uk or call 0208 726 6000 extension 13608.

For information about how companies can employ more people with disabilities, visit the British Association of Supported Employment website.

Case study – applicant
Terry Smith, who is partially paralysed with a condition called hemiplegia, gave a presentation to the event about the difficulties he had faced in finding work after 18 years working for the Metropolitan Police. As a result of the jobs fair, the 42-year-old from Thornton Heath starts a work placement in January based in Croydon council’s mail room. He said: “It’s something to go on my CV and hopefully I’ll get a job at the end of it. “Going to the jobs fair made it a more positive outcome for me.”

Case study – employer
Alan Wood, skills and employment manager at London Economic Development Company, took on an employee as a result of the event, who will spend a minimum of three months working on website development and social media marketing for a tour operator. He said: “There are many skills and abilities out there in people with disabilities, and it’s really a question of recognising that as an employer and capitalising on it.” (Source: Croydon council press release)


A Norbury-based trader has become the borough’s first store owner to be handed a prison sentence for selling knives to under-age customers.

The trader was sentenced to 10 weeks’ jail, suspended for 12 months, after admitting the offence at Croydon magistrates court.

Additionally, he was ordered to perform 100 hours’ community service and to pay costs of £7,144.00 and a victim surcharge of £80.

The court heard that, during a Croydon council trading standards department test-purchasing exercise in October 2015 his shop had been the only one of seven visited to sell knives to two 15-year-old volunteers.

A Croydon council spokesman said: “A member of staff sold the £4.99 five-piece knives and scissors set without asking for proof of age or identity.

“The trader was previously convicted of a similar offence at the same premises in June 2014. “He had taken no steps to prevent further under-age sales taking place.

“Following that conviction, trading standards officers, in person and in writing, had invited him and his staff on three occasions to attend free Do You Pass? training courses on the sale of age-restricted goods.

“Neither he nor his staff attended, nor were any in-store systems put in place to prevent further under-age sales from taking place.”

Sentencing, district judge Rana said: “The trader, as a shopkeeper, has a personal responsibility to prevent the sale of items to under-18s, and to ensure that his staff are properly trained.”

He told him:“You were given the opportunity to attend free training, but you declined to attend or to send your staff to the free training, and you declined to put any system in place to prevent under-age sales occurring. “You also failed to ensure that you had proper signage in place.

“Knives are extremely dangerous to those who are under 18. “A custodial sentence is justified.”

Cllr Hamida Ali, Croydon’s cabinet member for communities, safety and justice, said: “Knife crime is on the rise in London and we must do all we can to keep potentially lethal knives out of the hands of those young people who feel compelled to carry them.

“Traders have a heavy duty of responsibility here, and should take every step to ensure that they and their staff don’t help knives to get into the wrong hands.”

Traders keen to take part in forthcoming Do You Pass? training sessions can get further information at http://www.tradingstandards.uk/events/doyouPASS.cfm

Space is limited, so please be sure to book early. The next sessions are on: Wednesday 25 January 2017 – 10am to 12.45pm; 1.15 to 4pm.

As indicated, the sessions run for approximately 2 hours 45 minutes, and include a 30-minute multiple-choice exam. These courses are offered free of charge and are available only to small or medium-sized Croydon-based businesses.

Unique to Croydon, the sessions will also feature a short presentation from Public Health Croydon entitled ‘Protecting children and young people – everyone’s business.’
(Source: Croydon council press release)


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