Year 8 Work Place Visit to John Gosnell factory in Lewes
On Thursday 16th May a group of Year 8 students visited the John Gosnell cosmetics factory in Lewes. On arrival we were given a warm welcome by Chris Warner, the owner and director who took us to the meeting room where we signed in and completed our medical screening questionnaires. These were required for Health and Safety in the factory. Chris then gave us a very interesting background to the company, which is the oldest cosmetics company in the UK, founded in Lewes in 1677 and is known locally as the ‘Soap Factory’. The factory has been at its current site since August 2018 and consists of two companies. One business is a cosmetics and home fragrance manufacturer with manufacturing and packaging operations and the other business is a food and pharmaceutical packager. This side of the business is similar to the cosmetics but under more strict processing rules. There are the also supporting functions – the office, warehouse and laboratory. Chris told us that he has 27 staff with 2 part-time and the rest full-time – all are permanent. Students then had the opportunity to ask Chris some questions before our factory tour. We found out that the skills needed to work at John Gosnell included: good timekeeping, ability to follow rules and being able to stand up all day! The working day runs from 8am to 4pm with 2 x 15 minute breaks and half an hour for lunch. Staff work a 4 ½ day week with a nice early finish on Fridays. The company runs in-house training and there is a staff canteen. There are no set qualifications to work at John Gosnell and staff start on a 3 month trial. Job roles include production line (blue coats), makers (red coats), lab technicians (green coats), sales staff, accounts, managers and warehouse. John Gosnell pay the living wage and there is an annual bonus paid on the success of the business. Chris then asked us to put on white lab coats and net hats ready for our tour of the factory. This included: the warehouse where we saw the products, which are packed and sent out, the packing room where bottles of peppermint oil were being manually packaged for sending out, the making room where students each took a turn to fill candle holders with warm wax. We then went on watch staff mixing products, Chris explained the process of making soap and we visited Matt in the lab who asked students to carry out an experiment. Students took swabs of product from individual petri dishes and observed which one tested for traces of peanut. This is very important as there are strict rules on product leaving the warehouse and its reliability. If any traces are spotted, a cleaning process has to take place. Finally we returned to the meeting room to remove our lab coats and hats. Students found their visit very interesting and they have learnt a lot about all the different work that takes place in this particular factory environment. Chris very generously gave each student a John Gosnell pot of vitamin E cream, which got a unanimous seal of approval! Huge thanks to Chris and his team for taking the time out of their very busy working day to host our Year 8 group who thoroughly enjoyed their work place visit experience!