Expert manufacturing with a social conscience – Bradford at its best

By Dave Baldwin

Spread Love Not Germs. In an era of soundbites, that’s a good one. The message is adorned across a lockdown-inspired antibacterial cleanser spray made in Bradford. Astonish, the cleaning products manufacturer, is producing 250,000 of the rainbow-coloured bottles for sale across the UK, with all proceeds going to NHS Charities Together. It’s a fine cause and shows Bradford at its best: expert manufacturing with a social conscience.

The second generation family-owned company is playing an important role in helping Britain through the Covid crisis. As well as producing millions of cleaning products every week to help prevent transmission of the virus, Astonish has also been supporting our heroic health and care staff.

Howard Moss, managing director, said: “Since the start of this pandemic we have been doing what we can to help frontline workers. We started by donating Astonish Essential Packs to Bradford Royal Infirmary and St James’s Hospital in Leeds. But we didn’t just want to stop there, we wanted to do more.”

Hence the new product, designed by customer Lauren Lynch and available nationwide at retailers including Asda, Wilko, B&M, Savers and The Range. Buy a bottle if you can and back a brilliant cause: NHS Charities Together is helping NHS staff and volunteers caring for Covid patients. Spread Love Not Germs – it’s an important message for our times.

Founded by Alan Moss in 1969, Astonish has built up a loyal customer base for its pioneering use of cruelty-free ingredients in household cleaning products. It is reckoned to be the only UK-made brand approved by Cruelty Free International, The Vegan Society and The Vegetarian Society. It clearly pays to be “squeaky clean”: sales are forecast to hit £27m this year.

The company is one of 1,200 manufacturers based in the Bradford district. We are lucky to be blessed such with a strong industrial base, a legacy from our heritage as the capital of the world’s wool trade. It is one of the foundations of our £10bn economy and will be a driving force in creating new employment and tax revenues as Britain recovers from the shock of the lockdown.

The sector is hungry for talent: a quick glance at one of the world’s biggest job websites reveals 45-plus pages of new manufacturing roles in Bradford. This is precisely why Bradford Manufacturing Weeks is so important and is rightly going ahead this year – from October 5-16 –  with support from sponsors Barclays, E3 Recruitment, Naylor Wintersgill, Gordons, Bradford Council and the West and North Yorkshire Chamber of Commerce.

Nick Garthwaite, chair of the chamber and managing director of Bradford-based manufacturer Christeyns, said: “Following online meetings with teachers across the district and correspondence with manufacturers, we know there is appetite for Bradford Manufacturing Weeks 2020. Schools in particular have expressed a real desire to give students the opportunity to once again learn more about our wonderful world of manufacturing.

“While the fortnight will run outside our normal methods of delivery with no physical meetings, networking or factory visits, we believe we can still make an engaging, educational and informative experience of the district’s young people.”

Activities include a design competition with £500 prize to create a sanitation station for students, virtual tours of local manufacturing facilities, question and answer sessions with local manufacturers, online Barclays Life Skills sessions covering CV writing and interview guidance and a panel debate with local apprentices talking about their roles.

Hopefully the events will dispel the notion that manufacturing is just for young men. There are as many opportunities for young women: just ask rising stars like Alex Johnson, an engineering apprenticeship at aerospace supplier Produmax.

Mr Garthwaite added: “Despite the challenges of this year, it is so important that we stimulate our young people. They have had a tough time recently with not being at school and there is some talk of this being ‘the Covid-19 lost generation’ with learning disrupted, exams untaken and work experiences not had.

“I believe that Bradford Manufacturing Weeks 2020 will support and encourage our district’s young people to see the future opportunities within Bradford manufacturers and in turn ensure our sector is robust and has longevity with a pipeline of talented young people for generations to come.”

To find out more, please visit the Bradford Manufacturing Weeks website and see Bradford at its best: expert manufacturing with a social conscience.

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