Brentford, 15 May 2014 – Brentford-based Octink is demonstrating its commitment to the West London community with involvement in projects that help local young people find their way into work. The company is a leading producer of signage, graphics and decorated interiors for clients in retail and live events, as well as the commercial and residential property sectors.
Investing in the community
Following a one-month work placement at Octink, arranged through its partnership with West London social enterprise Cultivate London, Charlie Hearn, 23 from Osterley, has recently become a permanent employee of the company.
Charlie is an excellent example of how Cultivate London is helping young people develop new skills and find opportunities to get into work. “I found out about Cultivate through the job centre last year. I did a three-month course with them, in Level One horticulture – learning about things like different plants, how to look after them and how they’re grown. I liked that it was very hands-on, and I also got to do things like building polytunnels at the site on London Road. After two months at Cultivate, I went to work at Walpole Park in Ealing for a month. I was still training while I was there, but I was also getting to use what I’d learnt. Then Cultivate called me to ask me about whether I wanted to try a work placement at Octink.”
Mike Freely, Managing Director of Octink and also a Director of Cultivate London, says that Charlie is already an important part of the team. “When we’re particularly busy, which is a lot of the time, you can imagine how the amount of waste around the production areas of our warehouses can build up. That not only makes it difficult for our team to work and see what is complete and still needs to be done, but it can actually become a health and safety hazard. Charlie keeping on top of that is an essential part of ensuring that production runs smoothly.”
Ensuring that the Octink warehouses are kept as neat as possible is clearly important to Charlie, who is meticulous about his work: “Even if the warehouse seems clean at the end of the day, I’ll still have a go again, just to be sure.”
Cultivate London is an innovative urban farm and social enterprise that trains unemployed young people – aged 16 to 24 – in horticulture. In addition to a number of other methods of support, which Adrienne Attorp, Cultivate London’s General Manager says range from sign printing and additional labour power, Octink’s involvement in the program sees young people taking part in one-month work experience placements at the company following three months with the programme.
“The work placements that we’ve developed with Octink are a really important part of our relationship with them,” says Attorp. “If they have a place in their warehouse that they need to fill, then one of our trainees can go there for a one-month placement. These placements are vital in helping us to reach some of our training goals for the young people with whom we work.”
“Octink doesn’t only provide work placements though, some have actually developed into jobs, as with Charlie. We are also in the process of developing a mentoring program with Octink, whereby some of their staff will mentor our full time apprentices. We are so thankful for our relationship with them.”
Investing in the future
Octink’s community involvement is not limited to the partnership with Cultivate London. The company also partners with the Hounslow Education Business Charity, Spark!, which strives to find inspiring opportunities for young people to gain work experience, understand the labour market and develop confident enterprise and employability skills.
Earlier this year, Octink worked with Spark! to host a group of Year 10 students from Feltham Community College at an Industry Insight Day aimed at introducing young people to the world of work and the display and graphics industry. In addition to learning about the different kinds of roles and career paths in the industry, and finding out how their school subjects link to the world of work, the students split into groups to complete a fun challenge. This involved brainstorming ideas around how Octink could use graphic designs in homes, before evaluating these using a SWOT analysis and finally selecting and presenting their best idea.
Andrew Dakers, Director of Spark! says that industry insight days like this one are all about changing the lives of young people by opening their eyes to opportunities in industry and giving them insight into Octink as a place to work. “We work hand-in-hand with companies and our partner schools, to design a day that is not only inspiring and informative for the students involved, but which the company can then use as a template for future industry insight events to inspire even more young people.”
For Will Tyler, CEO and son of the company’s founder, Octink’s involvement in the community is a crucial part of its ethos. “The company has called West London home for more than 50 years and 70% of our workforce live within 10 miles of our offices, so working in partnership with the community needs to be part of everything we do – hence our involvement with Cultivate London and Spark!.”
Investing in people
Octink’s people-focused approach doesn’t only apply to its partnerships with the community. The company also puts its employees first and doing so has enabled Octink to gain a prestigious national award. In March 2014 the company was awarded the Investors in People Bronze award for going above and beyond in the way that it develops, supports and motivates its staff. This award is achieved by only 5% of Investors in People recognised organisations in the UK.