At the end of 2015, Lucite International’s team in Newton Aycliffe (LISPR) set up a community involvement group. One of its key aims was to establish closer relationships with the local community and it seemed immediately obvious that a potential way of doing so was to work with local primary and secondary schools. Jackie Brown, Business Administrator at LISPR and a founding member of the community involvement group, shared her account of how the team has begun to collaborate with a neighboring school.
The first school we have established a link with is Woodham Academy. We recently hosted a visit to LISPR as part of their Apprenticeship Awareness Challenge, an event that allows students to research apprenticeships and career opportunities within the manufacturing industry in the local area. Five other companies were also involved. In October, 22 students visited our site to see how they could secure an apprenticeship with the Company. Alongside apprenticeships there are many other ways to join and progress, so it was important to allow the students to experience the breadth of opportunities within a manufacturing company.
We began with a site introduction, an overview of the product range, together with details of how we recruit into our roles. Next, to give them a real sense of the business, the site, and to meet a broad range of the people who work here, we arranged a number of activities. First a plant tour to give them a feel for manufacturing. One of our team explained that it’s like making a cake by following a recipe; showing our equipment and technology helped to bring our final product to life. We gave the students an insight into how products are tested for quality before they are sent to customers, and also demonstrated an acid-base titration to find out the acid content of a pressure sensitive adhesive. A volunteer from each of the groups had a turn at carrying out the titration themselves.
To illustrate how we continuously evolve and develop our products, we did a ‘show and tell’ of making a suspension polymer in the laboratory, and demonstrated metallographic encapsulation (where a metal object is embedded in a mixture of monomer and polymer which then hardens allowing the object to be examined under a microscope). The students loved this part of their visit and were clearly intrigued!
Finally, we demonstrated how our products are used in so many different end-products around the world and discussed how they enhance people’s lives”. To top the visit off, our Site Cleaner, who also supports us in the community involvement group, did a fantastic job working with real enthusiasm behind the scenes to look after all the refreshments!
A few weeks later, to demonstrate what they learnt through their visit and follow-up research, the students gave a presentation to an audience of local company representatives, parents, other students and a judge, who is the chair of the school of governors. A small group of us went along to watch representatives from each tutor group give a talk and power point presentation about the companies they had visited. The LISPR presentation was delivered well. It has been a good initial experience, which we hope to build on as we continue to work with Woodham and establish links with more of the local schools in the future.”