A pioneering conference business that employees partially sighted and blind chefs has expanded its scope with new services and ambitions to provide outside catering.
Concept, a social enterprise scheme run by charity Action for Blind People, was created in 2006 and is housed in Galbraith House, Birmingham.
The business, which hosted 7,000 delegates last year, was established to challenge preconceptions and provide opportunities for blind and partially sighted people, who often find it difficult to gain employment within the hospitality industry.
Following a trial period, Concept Flex has this week officially launched at the site, offering flexible meeting and training space - bookable on an hourly basis - to the public. This has led to the creation of three new roles within the centre's team.
Alexander Lewis, team leader for Concept, said: "We're proud to be expanding with Concept Flex, which has only been possible thanks to the blind and partially sighted chefs, and all the other dedicated staff, who have made Concept such an incredible success."
"Hopefully this is only the beginning of our expansion. We are currently looking to develop our outside catering offer at other venues and will also be diversifying into delivering industry recognised training courses."
Although Concept's team has provided some outside catering already at events in the Birmingham area, Lewis said he would be working to boost the profile of the service in the coming months.
Of the 18 visually impaired trainees who have passed through Concept to date, 14 have gone into paid employment and four have chosen volunteering or further education.
By Chris Druce
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