Glasgow staff have learned sign language so they can communicate with their deaf co-worker.

When Sam Speirs started work as a machine operator at Rearo in Govan, he feared it would be difficult to engage with his colleagues.

The 28-year-old was then delighted when the rest of the team at Glasgow-based Rearo joined together and agreed to learn British Sign Language (BSL).

Being able to communicate with his colleagues has also enabled Sam to take part in the company’s social activities, including playing football, and attending birthday parties.

Sam said: “The way they rallied round was great.

“The plant is a big space, with lots of machines and vehicles all operating at the same time, and speed of communication is important.

“Being able to communicate quickly and to take directions at the right time is very important, and it is reassuring to know that everybody has my back.

“They were as keen as me to ensure that I was able to work effectively.”

Dozens of workers at the Govan plant, which manufactures kitchen and bathroom surfaces, have now attended weekly BSL lessons.

This has equipped them with the skills and knowledge to be able to sign and communicate with Sam.

The project is part of the company’s commitment to inclusion, supporting employees with a range of different abilities.

Sam began working at Rearo in 2017, after attending an interview with managing director Graham Mercer and Mark Gordon, then production manager.

Since then, he has worked in several areas of the company, including the postforming area and operating various machines. He is currently learning the admin side, using the company’s React system to process orders as well as being involved in the recent solid surfacing training programme.

Paula Phoenix, a sign language interpreter, who facilitates the learning, said: “Nowhere, no company or organisation anywhere that I am aware of, does what Rearo does. Honestly, what they are doing is amazing.

"Every single person in the company, from factory workers to office and showroom staff, has the opportunity to learn basic BSL. How amazing is that?

“A lot of businesses and organisations pay lip service to diversity, with the odd project or gesture. This commitment to ensuring every individual can learn BSL makes Rearo stand out as a unique example in fostering a culture of inclusivity.”

In addition to introducing the team to basic BSL Paula, who has 20 years of experience as an Interpreter, also shares deaf awareness information, helping Rearo staff to understand the cultural norms and nuances of the deaf community.

This approach aims to bridge the communication gap and create a more empathetic work environment.

She said: “While many companies might offer short-term sign language courses, Rearo's commitment is exceptional. The staff's willingness to invest time and effort in learning BSL demonstrates a top-down and bottom-up approach.

"If the guys hadn’t been willing to engage, then it wouldn’t have worked, but that was never the case. Everyone showed an eagerness to participate from the outset, which was really encouraging.”