Keep your eyes peeled for Claude the Crab.
Latimer’s Seafood has hidden 50 models of its crusty mascot along the North East coastline to raise awareness of autism and related conditions in the workplace.
Sophie’s condition has never got in the way of her ability to do her job and, just like any other member of staff, she has areas that need developing and areas where her strengths lie.Ailsa Latimer
Only 16 per cent of adults with autism are employed in the UK so the need for more employment opportunities for those living with the condition is clear.
Sophie Gray, an 18-year-old Latimer’s employee, has designed the 50 clay models.
Sophie was diagnosed with Asperger Syndrome, a form of autism, when she was 13, and sometimes has difficulties in social situations.
She has worked at the Whitburn business for two years as an assistant in the deli.
“Working at Latimer’s has really helped me develop; before I worked here the thought of social interaction could be very daunting,” she said.
“I am now considering my future and although I have the qualifications required to go to university, I am instead choosing the apprenticeship route.”
Ailsa Latimer said: “Sophie’s condition has never got in the way of her ability to do her job and, just like any other member of staff, she has areas that need developing and areas where her strengths lie.
“It’s our responsibility as an employer to develop and support her as we would with any other member of staff, it really is that simple.
“As an assistant in the deli she has been a real asset to the business, with fantastic skills in IT, as well as being a talented artist. Her attitude is amazing and this has enabled her to take many different responsibilities.
“I know that she is as passionate as we are about helping to raise awareness of the condition and encourage other employers in the region to create more jobs for those with Autism.”
Victoria Gray, Sophie’s mum, said: “Latimer’s exemplify how to support an autistic person within work. They have created strategies to assist Sophie in her employment, by recognising what she can do, rather than what she cannot and putting into place defined plans to manage her abilities for the benefit of herself and the business.
Anyone who finds a Claude should take his picture and share it to their social media channels, using #RewardforClaude, to be in with a chance of winning the star prize of a family meal, then return him to Latimer’s to win the reward of a delicious dressed lobster to take home.