What was the partnership?
On the face of it, a partnership between Mechline Development, a leading UK manufacturer of equipment for the food service and hospitality industry, and MK Snap, an education and skill-building charity for people with learning disabilities, might not seem an obvious match. But this 25-year partnership has brought tangible and long-lasting benefits to the charity’s learners, and a dynamic cultural change for its partner organisation.
What did it do?
Mechline Developments serves the UK food and hospitality industry with specialised equipment, including gas connectors. For 25 years, the organisation has outsourced part of the labelling, cleaning and packaging of its commercial kitchen gas hoses to MK Snap, which serves adults with learning disabilities that include Asperger’s, brain injuries, Down’s syndrome and cerebral palsy.
Why did it win?
This partnership, judges said, showed “true integration” of charity into a business’s daily function, with the benefits of the partnership for both parties palpable. Learners at MK Snap work with a tutor to create the products under Mechline’s rigorous assembly line process, which are then distributed by the manufacturing company. To ensure the project was fully inclusive, the company built personalised aids and adaptations at work stations to enable those with different disabilities to carry out the variety of assembly tasks and produce the expected top quality products. Learners regularly visit the Mechline head office to gain a broader idea of the project, and the partnership tracks the progress of participants through learning logs, review meetings, photos and videos, and testimonials. Mechline also makes monthly financial contributions to MK Snap based on the number of products created. More broadly, the project has helped to break down the barriers around employing people with learning disabilities and created improved pathways and support between employers and people with learning disabilities.
What did the judges say?
Faiza Khan, engagement and insight director at the National Lottery Community Fund, was impressed by the clear impact the partnerships made to the lives of the charity’s service users and the working practices of its business partner.
“Mechline adapted its work practices to different individuals’ needs and provides a good level of wrap-around support, helping its service users and staff develop and be fulfilled,” she said.
“This is a unique example of a charity partnership being a central part of how the charity delivers its services. MK Snap has also had a wider impact on the community and employers, something that is probably possible only because of Mechline's long-term dedication.”
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