Since December 2016, we have been collaborating with the Lebenshilfewerk Neumünster (LHW). Time flies! This is a good moment to pause and reflect: These were three years of partnership, three years of joint progress and three years of support and product innovation – for LHW not only assists us in producing Bracenets, but also in developing new products.
Our quick growth is therefore also a success for LHW. We are grateful for their support. We are in close contact with each other and recently visited Neumünster again. A few of our new employees came along to get to know their colleagues from the LHW for the first time.
What is the LHW?
But before we visit the individual production teams: What exactly is the Lebenshilfewerk Neumünster? LHW helps people with disabilities to lead self-determined lives as independently as possible. To strengthen strengths and weaken weaknesses, LHW offers assistance in school, work and leisurely activities. Everyone has the same rights and everyone has the right to be different – LHW stands for community instead of discrimination, solidarity instead of exclusion, and care instead of violence.
LHW responds to individual needs with a wide range of services, enabling participation in society and working life. LHW supports children from the age of 2, works closely with special schools, and runs several workshops in which the approximately 320 employees work under the guidance of trained specialists, their 40-50 caregivers. This includes a garden centre, a media workshop and a carpentry workshop, as well as several working groups that for instance assist us in the production of Bracenets.
A visit to the Lebenshilfewerk Neumünster
Marco, production manager of LHW, welcomes us to our tour. He has been in contact with our founding team, Benjamin and Madeleine, since the beginning of our collaboration three years ago.
Now it is time to visit the LHW production teams. All our colleagues from Neumünster are doing their best and taking the time to show us the individual work steps in detail and answer our questions. Let’s go!
Preparation of the Bracenets
Our tour started in the production teams that support us in the production of the Bracenets with magnetic clasp. Supervised by Christel and Wally, Jeanette and Basti prepare the Bracenets so that another team can later install the clasps. Basti cuts the net into strings and removes the cross connections from the knots. He has been producing Bracenets fro three years now. He tells us that it requires lots of patience, but he enjoys the quiet work.
Opposite Basti we find Jeanette. She lacks the patience for the knots, so she takes Basti’s finished net strings and trims them to the right length for the Bracenets. Thus, Basti and Jeanette complement each other – not only at work, as they tell us, but they are even engaged! They always work together for half a day on the Bracenets. Basti and Jeanette both have a Red Sea at home, but they prefer to make Bracenets from a little thicker net strings, as they are easier to work with.
Completing the Bracenets
After Jeanette and Basti have finished, Anja, Katrin and Emily from Katja’s team add the clasps to finish the Bracenets. They have developed their own system for this purpose: they place the clasps into a wooden stencil, then fill them with glue and in the last step add the trimmed strings. As soon as they have dried, they are ready to be sent to our workshop in Hamburg.
In contrast to Jeanette and Basti, Katja’s team prefers to work with the Adriatic and Baltic Sea, as these are thinner and easier to stick into the clasps. Overall, they are delighted to work with us, as Katja confirms: With Bracenet everyone has the feeling of contributing to the environment and saving the seas as well as animals.
Production of the “One Fits All” Bracenets
Next, our tour led us to Elke and Dennis’ team, who support us in manufacturing handles for our Soulbottles and size-adjustable bracenets. By sliding the knots, these Bracenets fit around every wrist – the technology for this was developed by this production team.
Alex demonstrated the production of a handle and a Bracenet. Elke and Dennis are proud of their group, as they have worked hard to learn the necessary skills. Of course, production is not running at the same speed every day, but there is no room for stress – because even though LHW is providing services to other companies and they appreciate this opportunity, well-being and health always come first.
Engraving the clasps
Gunnar, Tobias and Patricia work together with eight employees in the LHW’s media workshop. The media workshop offers a programme for somewhat more complex work – in order to operate all the different machines, the employees have to remember many details and be familiar with working on a computer. The workshop offers a wide range of products and services – textile printing, embossing, and all kinds of digital prints.
They also have two machines for laser engraving; they are used for glass, wood and even the tubes of our size-adjustable Bracenets. For example, the media workshop engraved the Werder Bremen logo on the clasps of our cooperation Bracenets with the football club, as well as the tags for the GoodNet campaign. We were shown how it works: after all the settings have been made on the computer and the clasps are arranged in the machine, the laser starts – at an amazing 5 meters per second. We did not have to wait long until the clasps were ready, with the logo of Werder Bremen flawlessly engraved. But Tobias himself is a St. Pauli fan – and without further ado one of the employees engraved a few cutting boards with the logo of St. Pauli for us. Thank you very much for the lovely present!
Storage of nets
The last stop on our tour was the LHW storage facility. This is where the production of Bracenets in Neumünster begins and ends. The employees pre-cut the nets so that the other teams can process them in smaller pieces and later send the finished packages to us in Hamburg. In addition, the majority of our nets are stored here, initially in the building, but now outside due to their quantity. After their recovery from the ocean, the nets are first sent to our partner Nofir, where they are cleaned, stored and pre-sorted. The nets that are suitable for our upcycling are then brought to our factory or to the LHW in Neumünster. Here, they are stacked in huge bags. We gathered an overview of the colours, types and quantity of the nets, brought some samples back to our workshop and are already working eagerly on many new product ideas. Stay tuned!
More information about the Lebenshilfewerk Neumünster
To find out more about the Lebenshilfewerk Neumünster, just visit their website. You can also visit them and support them directly – for example by shopping at the garden centre Pfauenhof; or the pottery, coffee and cake at Café Olé; or by placing an order with the media workshop. By the way, the size-adjustable bracenets, that LHW supports us in producing, can now also be purchased through our online shop.
Thank you dear Lebenshilfewerk Neumünster, for the great day, and of course for our collaboration! We learned a lot about your work, had a lot of fun and were very happy to meet our colleagues in your production teams. We are connected by a special partnership and we are looking forward to your visit to our workshop!