John had the day off yesterday so we set off to Ely to visit Harry Specters Social Enterprise.
As we now have a fledgling enterprise we thought it a good idea to support this one by buying their products and seeing how they worked.
Christmas is of course the busiest time of the year for a Chocolate factory and there were boxes of beautifully packed chocolates, pretty chocolate lollies, Bears and Santa’s and more delights everywhere you looked.
We were given a very warm welcome despite the pressures of getting massive corporate orders out and it being black Friday.
We met Rosie in the office and then Mona and Shah came through and chatted to us about how they came to set up this award winning enterprise.
Their son Ash who has autism came up with the name ‘Harry Specters’. Its a great name and very easy to remember. Mona had a job working for the NHS in Mental Health but recognised that Ash would never have the chance to be in employment due to the lack of opportunity for people who have a disability.
Mona who has a lifelong love of chocolate decided to open a chocolate factory as a social enterprise to give her son and others who have autism the chance which they needed to work.
I feel very strongly that until the chance to work is taken away it is very hard to imagine a life which has little structure or meaningful activity.
There are so many opportunities of work for most of us but imagine if the chance of a job was never there and your life desperately needed some structure and purpose to it. For most of us work serves a number of purposes, not least it pays the mortgage and for all that we need and want but it is also somewhere that we have a role, however high or low we are in the pecking order within the organisation there is something people rely on us to do, we also see our colleagues at work, some of them we may get on very well with, others we might be less keen on but we are usually not isolated and lonely while we are at work.
Harry Specters has now been running for 6 years and their annual turnover is impressive. They will soon be moving into bigger and better premises. They have won recognition for the Enterprise itself but also for the chocolates which they are producing, 22 awards in just four years….These aren’t just any chocolates, they are Harry Specters Chocolates!
We met the team who were in yesterday while they were on their lunch break, what was really great about it was that it could have been a group of employees anywhere at their lunch break they were all sitting around the table and laughing and joking with one another. Someone had just been and purchased a massive box of Krispy Kreme donuts, was it a special occasion I asked? No, Mona answered they are always buying each other treats.
So after tasting many of the delicious, sophisticated varieties of chocolates, laden with bags of beautiful and luxurious chocolates, many of which Mona just kept adding to our bags so we could taste them, we made our goodbyes.
We spent more than we intended but lots of friends and family will be receiving a box of these very special chocolates for Christmas.
These days many products you buy have a label saying ‘made with love’ well this product is made with so many things, love, drive, ambition for those who have autism, self belief that there wouldn’t be a label big enough to cover it.
Today I feel inspired, the drive of this Mother-Father Team is changing lives and giving self esteem and confidence to a large number of beneficiaries and producing award winning luxury chocolates.
For information on Harry Specters please see their wonderful website http://www.harryschocs.co.uk if you are a chocolate lover you will be very tempted too I am sure.