New social enterprise aims to bring work back to unemployed people with disabilities

TWO and a half million Brits are expected to be unemployed this year after the fall out of the pandemic. A concern for many has been how disabled people will fare with the aftermath. The unemployment rate for people with disabilities is more than twice those who are able bodied.

As the news broke last year that one of the UK’s oldest charitable enterprises had allegedly left many disabled employees with wages, pensions and furlough payments unpaid, a former employee who was at the organisation took matters into her own hands to ensure her colleagues would not be left in the dark. 

Started by a former employee of Clarity, Diane Cheung, is launching new social enterprise MELIOR – meaning ‘better’ in Latin – after being let go last year. The plan is to employ marginalised people, getting them back into the workplace by creating and selling non toxic, ocean friendly cleaning products that are good for people and the planet. She says “I’ve seen injustices against people with disabilities at a time they need support the most. I simply could not sit by and watch it unfold. There are over 1.1m people with disabilities who want to work but can not find any. Every bottle sold means I am one step closer to employing more people with disabilities. That’s what drives me to make MELIOR a huge success.”

80% of employees at Clarity had disabilities. Originally founded in 1854 they existed to ensure people who were on the margins of society were provided secure and fair paying jobs and opportunities where they could succeed. People such as Joanna Lumley and Sir Ian Duncan Smith have spoken out in the midst of claims to support workers who are still awaiting their payments. 

Sareet Shah, who had been with the company since 2006 and has been blind since birth says, “Coming to work used to make me feel good. I used to enjoy the work, the responsibility and making money. I want employers to understand that people with disabilities can work, want to work and are committed to their work. The only thing we are asking for is a chance to work. And that is what MELIOR is doing.” 

MELIOR has partnered with an internationally renowned biotechnology company, and launched three non-toxic, ocean and pet friendly cleaning products on 19 February (All Purpose Hero, Bathroom Hero, Stain Remover Hero, in 450ml reusable glass bottles, RSP £9.50. Glass refills available RSP £5-£5.50). Their zero waste programme means their bottles can be returned and used again and again.

Since the start of the pandemic over 60% of consumers around the globe have been making more environmentally friendly, sustainable, or ethical purchases. And 9 out of 10 intend to keep on doing so (Source: Accenture, Aug 2020). Covid-19, an unparalleled historical event has changed the way people live, the way people work and the way people interact. It has given many the time to question if their actions truly reflect on their ethos and values.

Paul Twiss, Marketing Director says “We are combining forces with MELIOR because they are just as passionate as we are, about changing the way the world cleans – using nature to eradicate the use of unnecessarily harmful chemicals. R&D is at the very heart of our business and we’re delighted to be partnering with MELIOR, sharing our expertise and mastery of biotechnology to create cleaning products that are better for people and the planet.”

Currently used in the Houses of Parliament, The Burj Khalifa in Dubai and Hotel de Paris in Monaco, MELIOR heralds an era of super conscious and kinder cleaning at home. They employ people with disabilities, support emerging creative talent with a rotating Artists Collection, and their zero waste returns policy means they are putting an end to single use packaging. For MELIOR, recycling is not the only option.

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