We had been working with Harry Specters for three weeks, on the Cambridge HUB Social Innovation Programme, when I first came to visit. Meeting and speaking with Shaz, Rohan, Darius, Rachel and Aston was pretty eye-opening. Most importantly, from observing the team and listening to their stories, I came to realise that every autistic person (every person, actually) has a personality and skillset that’s unique to them, and that while they may fail to impress employers at interviews, that doesn’t detract from their worth. Being on the autistic spectrum doesn’t necessarily mean you will be any less capable than ‘normal’ people at performing a given task. ‘Normal’ is in itself a very problematic word. People (myself included) have got to learn to look beyond outer appearances and learn to celebrate each other’s differences.
We got a good picture of how much effort and energy went into running the company. Shaz recounted to me some of their experiences - he told me the story of how he and his wife began with a mere £4000 of capital and managed to build a company with an award-winning business model and several high-profile clients. He spoke of taking on gargantuan orders and working late nights with their employees (and their parents!) to meet them. The love they put into their work and chocolates is striking. We want to focus our work within the Social Innovation Programme on helping Harry Specters find more ways of creating an impact. A small business with a social mission runs into many challenges, and we want to help. Luckily, the people we meet with want to help as well.
I’m really grateful for being given the opportunity to meet Shaz and the team - they are a really jolly and inspiring bunch. Your staff are amazing as your chocolates. I wish you all the best, and I do hope Rohan achieves his dream of starting a night club!
/Shaun (engineering student at University of Cambridge)
Harry Specters add:
We worked with five young students from University of Cambridge on increasing awareness about our social mission which is to employ people with autism. While working with them, one of the striking things was their curiosity to meet our workforce - mainly people with autism. We are extremely glad that they put an effort in visiting us, met our small workforce and as a result discovered the skillset of people with autism. These students will become the bosses of tomorrow and we now have realised that at Harry Specters we need to do more of such projects.