Ness Soaps

Posted by editor 19/09/2012 0 Comment 3545 views


By Jenny McBain

To step into the shop front of Ness Soaps in Inverness is to enter a world of intoxicating smells and enticingly packaged products.  But it is much more than that. Ness Soaps is, in fact, a social enterprise based in the Highland capital, Inverness.

The company makes luxury soaps and other toiletries incorporating blends of essential oils. A glimpse into the manufacturing area behind the shop reveals a team of workers hard a work, making things and learning new skills.

Ness takes on trainees who need support to develop work skills. Some of the trainees have health problems, learning difficulties or other issues which can create a barrier to employment.

At the moment the company generates 60 per cent of its income through sales.  The rest of the running costs are met by grants and subsidy.  Up to 25 trainees work there at any one time.

First hand accounts:-

Tracey* (25) trainee with Ness Soaps

I’ve been working at Ness Soaps for 7 months and I have an alarm clock in my head now.  I’ve never had that before but now I wake up every morning at 8 o’clock because I have a reason to get up. I really like making stuff and the bog myrtle soap is my favourite because of the way it feels on your skin.  The staff here are fantastic.; they are really positive. If you have problems learning something they will show you again.  They’re really patient. Before I came here, I had quite a troubled life.  I got in with the wrong crowd and ended up in prison.  I was involved in drugs and spent some time in a women’s refuge.  Now I feel really good in myself.  My confidence and self esteem have improved a lot. Meeting new people can be difficult.  When I first came here meeting new faces and talking to folk was a challenge.   It also took a while to learn the product range and the making process.  I don’t mess about at my work, I just get on with my job and get things done.   In future I would like to get a job as a production leader with Ness Soap. I think it is amazing that this company helps people like me to get work.  Ness Soaps should expand.

Jessica Hunter (30) trainee with Ness Soaps

I like doing new stuff all the time and you can do that here. A couple of weeks ago I got to go to the golf open championships to sell our products.  That was amazing. I make stuff and it is great cause you are working with lavender and lemon and things that smells really good.  Boxing things up is also good fun and I really like working in the shop because you get to talk to folk.   Although I have learning difficulties, I like to mix with lots of different people, people who don’t have learning difficulties.  We are able to tell customers that we make all the stuff ourselves. At one time I was unemployed for two years. Doing nothing all the time is boring.  Now I get help with reading and writing and there is a chance that I might get work experience with an insurance company working in the kitchen. Now I know how to work a till and work in a shop, I feel much more confident.

Could you help Ness Soaps?

Ness soaps would like to raise a further £25,000 a year in order to employ the services of job coach who would work intensively to find permanent positions for trainees who have completed the two year programme.

Tracey* is not a real name.

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