MP visits Autism chocolate factory

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The Minister of State for Community and Social Care, The Rt Hon Alistair Burt MP visited the new Autism Plus chocolate making factory at Park House Barns, Ampleforth in August.

The visit was arranged by Kevin Hollinrake MP for Thirsk and Malton. Park House Barns, a series of farm buildings owned by Ampleforth Abbey, the UK’s largest and most forward-looking Benedictine community, along with five acres of land have been provided to Autism Plus on a long term lease on favourable terms.

Autism Plus is creating a range of micro social enterprises including the chocolate factory and a horticultural CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) scheme, to promote the employment progression for adults with autism and other disabilities in North Yorkshire.

Further development will include a bakery, a vintage car hire business and a bespoke letterpress printing service. Philip Bartey, Group Chief Executive at Autism Plus said: “We were delighted to welcome The Rt Hon Alistair Burt to view the first of our new enterprise businesses in Ampleforth.

“Many disabled people who want to work are disconnected from the workplace, either through discrimination, lack of understanding or because of a misplaced belief that real barriers prevent them from engaging positively with employers.

“The enterprises are designed to be self-sustaining and provide work experience, training and real job opportunities.”

MP Hollinrake was delighted to welcome such a good initiative to benefit the local community and the Minister for Care and Communities, he commented: “I am delighted to support the work of this excellent project.

“Many people with disabilities want to work, have a great deal to offer and we need to look at new ways to make that possible.”

The Rt Hon Alistair Burt MP said he was delighted to see local communities including Ampleforth Abbey coming together in supporting disabled people to gain more control over their lives.