I can t read or write, but I can cook
|bbc.com 10 May 2021 at 18:50|
"I ve had directors and bosses who are very understanding. If I need help, there s always someone I can talk to," he told Radio 5 live.
Thomas has found ways to manage his struggles with reading and writing, but some fear there is still stigma attached to low-level literacy, which could be holding back not just individuals career potential, but the UK economy as a whole.
The former head of the civil service, economist Gus O Donnell, has now warned the UK is "facing a literacy crisis".
Lord O Donnell, chairman of Pro Bono Economics, told the Wake Up to Money programme it was "unacceptable" that several million adults had "very poor literacy skills", calling the issue a "long-term problem".
An estimated nine million adults in the UK have low-level literacy skills. That means they find it hard to do things most people take for granted - such as filling out a job application.
When new people start work, Thomas says he takes his time and tries to avoid situations where he has to write in front of them. Every night, he has to write prep lists and new menus in preparation for the next day.
"I try and take a little bit of extra time in the evening when there s no one there to write that down, so I can make sure it looks presentable, readable and spelt right," he says.
"I ve had situations in the past when my chefs come in the morning, take my prep list and, when I come in later, it s been crossed out and spell-checked, or underlined."
At a food demonstration in Battersea Park, cooking in front of 300 people, the presenter asked Thomas why he got into cooking.
He replied: "I can t read or write, but I can cook."
image captionSam said filling out forms would fill him with dread if there wasn t a co-worker nearby to help him
Sam, a 34-year-old builder from London, was diagnosed with dyslexia when he was in primary school.
Close friends and family knew his struggles, but as he got older and friends started getting mobile phones and texting each other, he felt himself slipping further and further behind.
Everyday things such as filling out forms or following recipes were a struggle.
"I m a builder. Every time you go on to site, you ve got to fill out a form and the dread [I feel] if one of my co-workers is not with me. I d be all panicky," he says.