For many people with disabilities, finding a path into meaningful and sustainable employment will be challenging. Lack of training opportunities, lack of workplace adaptations and difficulties adapting to the professional sector are common issues. Based in Larbert (Falkirk), Haven PTS is an award-winning social enterprise firm which successfully addresses these issues. Part of the Haven Group of businesses and a registered charity, Haven provides meaningful, skilled jobs and development opportunities to people with disabilities and to those marginalised in society.
Created to succeed – Haven PTS’ rapid expansion
Haven PTS was formed after the closure of Remploy textile in 2013. Jamie Lawson (General Manager) and three other senior ex Remploy managers, Maureen Maxwell, Nicci Wootherspoon and Gordon Reid in collaboration with 9 other former employees started manufacturing textile garments in a 12,000 square foot factory in Stirling. After 18 months of trading and having secured more customers, the company relocated to a 50,000 square foot factory in Larbert (Falkirk) where it now employs 55 members of staff (95% of whom are disabled or face a complex barrier to work). Jamie explains. “Our aim is to provide skilled workers with real job opportunities. People are often surprised when we tell them the majority of our staff lives with some form of disability. Yet, last month we had 0% absenteeism, this reflects the commitment, work ethic and dedication of our team.”
In the new site, PTS is joined by two other Haven businesses: The Sign Factory and Redrock. The Sign Factory manufactures road, office and other signage. Redrock is a quality secured data scanning and archiving service. The new site now welcomes over 70 employees. With over 95% of workers living with some degree of disability or social limitation, adaptations are needed. From fire safety procedure for hard of hearing or deaf employees to rising stations to machinery adaptations, there are challenges but the company is thriving. Ultimately, everyone wants to be involved in a community and Haven PTS provides just that. On top of being a registered charity themselves, they organise events to help other people in need. Last month, they raised £327 for Kidney Kids Scotland.
Planning for the future
Keeping an eye on the future, Haven has been working in collaboration with Momentum Skills Scotland and Falkirk Council to develop a stage 1 and 2 programme of training interventions to support clients with learning disabilities or physical disabilities to move towards gaining long term sustainable employment. The project has been developed to offer a new way of learning which integrates outdoor activity with skills for work and skills for life. Launched in January 2015, early indicators are showing that clients who are already part of the programme are developing a whole host of new skills in preparation to employment. The project is a two-year pilot with a target figure of 90 clients entering the programme over the given time period.
Overall, in an industry that some had predicted to decline, Haven PTS has managed to thrive and offers valuable opportunities for disabled people. Already providing the NHS with 100,000 trousers and 37,000 tunics a year, Haven PTS has successfully secured its place in this niche market. Constantly dealing with new demands, they have even met with potential customers from Australia. We can only hope that they will continue to develop their business throughout Scotland and help our community grow stronger.
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