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Ignition Brewery: a refreshing approach to inclusive employment

The brewery is paving the way by creating a broader, more inclusive employment offer for people with learning disabilities - while brewing really great beer. Their tap room in Sydenham opens this week. 


Finding that all-important first job is a daunting prospect for everyone - but not all job searches are created equally. Despite employers and government making an outward commitment to narrowing the disability employment gap through programmes like Access to Work or the Disability Confident Scheme, the competitive environment of job searching can still be very limiting to many.

That’s why Lewisham’s Ignition Brewery, founded by Nick O’Shea and Will Evans, is creating jobs and training people to make a fantastic craft beer product that rivals the likes of BrewDog and Beavertown. 

The difference between other craft beer breweries and Ignition is that Ignition employs people who would otherwise be part of the 90% of people with learning disabilities who are unemployed in the UK. The refreshing and innovative approach of the team at Ignition Brewery is in sharp contrast to employment programmes that focus on what people can’t do, rather than what they can. 

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Shunning the traditional recruitment process of an interview or work trial in favour of a ‘learn as you go’ approach, Ignition provides training at all stages of the brewing process, dismissing the need for a support worker and paying their employees the London Living Wage. With this, there is a positive, family-like atmosphere of honesty and transparency in training people into public facing roles, and inevitably leads to the creation of a great product that sells.

The initiative to create great beer was met with plenty of mistakes and lessons to be learnt as the group at Ignition gained their food hygiene qualifications and mastered brewing techniques to make their product. At present the brewery sells four well-crafted beers: a Pale Ale local to their area of Lewisham called ‘South of the River’; an India Pale Ale, ‘Jump Start’; ‘Well Oiled Machine’ a porter, and a double IPA called GTI Turbo.

Like any other business, the survival of Ignition Brewery depends solely on sales of beer. As a unique force within the competitive and thriving beer market, Ignition demonstrates that by creating a dedicated team with a commitment to making an excellent product, employment of people with learning disabilities can be done and done well. 


After a successful and oversubscribed crowdfunding campaign, Ignition are opening their new tap room in Sydenham in South East London this week. Pop by 44A Sydenham Road for a pint - get in touch with the team on for opening hours, or find out more about their work here.