GANDIA is the scene for a groundbreaking project involving the integration of mentally and physically disabled into a normal working environment.
A restaurant in the town has opened staffed by such persons, with the aim of helping them work “in a real and normal environment, so that they can move on to work in other establishments on their own merits.” Said Rafael Rico, organiser of the scheme. Nine disabled staff work on rotation at the Gandia restaurant and a sister project rolled out at a restaurant in Ibi, in the south of the Alicante Province.
Helpers are always present as support, and the restaurant is a resounding success and a testament to forward thinking social services in Spain, and the positive attitude here to persons with disabilities. With the help of monitors the disabled staff work in the kitchen, bar and floor, covering all aspects of the restaurant operation.
Those involved take the usual hospitality industry courses and exams, and so are competing on equal terms with the rest of the population’s work force.
There have been no major glitches in the scheme, and indeed the response of the public to the use of disabled persons has been “more than positive” according to Sr. Rico.
By Paul Deed