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Employability Partners

Posted By Heather Ette, 04 April 2018

Pluss Nominated for Herald Business Award 2018

Plymouth-based Social Enterprise Pluss have been nominated for the Manufacturer of the Year Award (sponsored by BD diagnostics) at the Herald Business Awards 2018 in recognition of their work, manufacturing high quality timber-based products.

As a Social Enterprise, Pluss’ mission is to ensure that half of their 50 employees (both managers and staff) have a disability. Pluss have been operating for over 40 years, and in the past two years have invested over £250K in new machinery and rationalised operations.

Steve Hawkins FIEP, CEO of Pluss said “We are determined to demonstrate that employing a large number of disabled people can help a company to grow, to operate at the cutting edge of manufacturing innovation, and to succeed in delivering outstanding results. Our most valued customer is ViSpring who manufacture luxury beds which are distributed worldwide. Every Vispring bed is made individually to order and entirely by hand.”

Pluss is an integral part of Vispring operations and in 2017 manufactured over 23,000 bed frames. They provide a ‘Just In Time’ service for manufacture of all their bed-frames and textiles (mattress covers and protectors). They manufacture to a maximum three-day workplan and deliver to them five times a day. They have an excellent relationship with their management team and are exploring additional product lines. They also value the social impact Pluss brings to their business through employment of local people with disabilities; getting people off benefits, improving the economy and changing lives.

Pluss employee David, 59, said “I’ve worked for Pluss for four and a half years. I work on bed assembly and textiles. Thirty-eight years ago, I was serving as a sub-mariner and had a serious motorbike accident. I was 21 at the time. I broke everything, I was bedbound for a year, lost my memory and I didn’t think I would live to see 30. I didn’t think I would ever get back into work – nor did anyone else. This is my first job since the accident. It’s brilliant. Now I’ve got something to get up for in the mornings. Just doing this job is great for me. I have skills, it’s improved my health and I am much stronger than I used to be. There is no way I could have got a job without Pluss. I’m off benefits and life is very different for me now.”

Scott, 19, Pluss employee said “I have worked for Pluss since February 2017. I have got autism. I went to college but didn’t get very good grades. I did marine engineering but no one wanted to take me on. I had experience but not the grades. Sometimes it felt like you are being pushed away. Then I came here and it gave me a chance to show who I am and what I can do. It feels amazing to be independent, get skills and earn my own money. I don’t have to rely on my parents and it’s my stepping stone to life. Working for Pluss is amazing. They believe in people who think they can’t work.”

Pluss are also working with Vispring and Plymouth Art College to develop a new Sewing Academy in Plymouth. The new initiative will inspire unemployed local people to gain vocational skills and employment, whilst addressing the shortage of experienced seamsters in Plymouth. The nearest similar facility is in Bridgwater in Somerset, so the new academy should help to boost Plymouth’s employment credentials.

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