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Winner | Living Wage Advocate of the Year

I am delighted that we have been awarded ‘Advocate of the Year’ in this year’s Living Wage Champion Awards.

This award recognises our work promoting the Living Wage in the cleaning industry.

A Core Value

From the very beginning, Just Helpers Cleaning Agency have strived to pay above the Living Wage. Our cleaning team, who live in London, need to thrive in the city that they work and live in. And that means decent pay.

Workers in the cleaning sector are more likely to be female, racially diverse and non-native English speakers. My own experience working with anti-trafficking organisations showed me how vulnerable to to exploitation this population can be.

Sharing the Message

We were one of the first cleaning agencies in London to be recognised by the Living Wage Foundation. And as the founder of Just Helpers I have always promoted the London Living Wage both within our industry and beyond.

This means taking every opportunity to talk about the need for fair pay and decent working conditions in every sector. And with the current cost of living crisis, this is more important that ever.

The Cost of Cleaning

Our mission is to transform attitudes to cleaning services in the UK. So, I want everyone who engages a cleaner – whether in their home or business – to understand the real cost of ethical cleaning. It shouldn’t be about getting the cheapest service. It should be about valuing the expertise and skills of cleaners by paying the proper rate for their work.

Right now, the cleaning industry, alongside several other, traditionally low pay sectors, is experiencing major recruitment problems. We believe that by ensuring our Helpers receive above the London Living Wage, we can attract, and retain, skilled cleaning colleagues in a crowded market.

We want to share the message that the Living Wage not only benefits our colleagues, but also benefits us a business. And we hope that the Living Wage movement continues to grow as more businesses join. As a Living Wage Advocate, along with the Just Helpers team, I am so proud to be a part of it.

Plastic Free Cleaning | 3 Ways

This month is Plastic Free July. So how can you reduce the plastic in your cleaning cupboard?

A glance down the cleaning aisle will tell you there’s a lot of plastic bottles, sprays, sponges and more out there. But there are eco-friendly alternatives too. Here are our top tips for plastic free cleaning.

1. Refill to Reuse

There are lots of great options if you want to reuse your existing plastic bottles by refilling them. This is an even more planet-friendly option than recycling, as it uses less energy.

We love Splosh, where you can order letterbox sized, super-concentrated refills of everything from bathroom and floor cleaner, to kitchen cleaner and washing up liquid. There’s even shower gel and hand wash too. Buy Splosh’s own sturdy bottles, or rinse and refill your own. 

Other order-online refill options include Ocean Saver and Smol . However, we haven’t tested these ourselves so we would love to hear your experiences!

And don’t forget you can also refill your cleaning products in many local stores, so take a look on your local high street. 

2. Reduce: Recycled Bottles and Concentrates

Just Helpers favourites Method use 100% recycled plastic in their bottles, as well as offering refills so you can top up when you need to.

And we also love Ecover, who use recycled plastic in their bottles. Find Ecover refill stations in many local eco-friendly stores.

Changing to plastic free cleaning is not just about detergents and bottles. It’s also about all those cloths and sponges we use – and there are some great reusable alternatives here too. Look out for washable sponges and cloths from e cloth or compostable options from EcoVibe .

3. Plastic Free Traditional Recipes

I’ve been experimenting with some chemical free, plastic free cleaning product recipes and I’ve got some great results!  I’ve been sharing these traditional cleaning methods with local WI groups to spread the word. Try these for yourself.

Wood Polish

  • 1 part vinegar
  • 1 part oil (olive, almond, or my favourite  – walnut)
  • A few drops of essential oil

Mix together and use straight away or store in a bottle. Then apply with a soft cloth and polish with another soft cloth. I love this one.

All Purpose Cleaning Spray

The vinegar in this recipe cleans and acts as an antibacterial agent, and the smell dissipates quickly, especially if you add essential oils of citrus peel. Use this on most hard surfaces including glass.  

  • 1 part white vinegar
  • 1 part warm water
  • A few drops of essential oil (I use geranium as it makes me feel positive and relaxed), or drop in orange or lemon peel. 

Store your products in a glass bottle with a trigger spray so you’re totally plastic free.

These recipes offer eco-friendly, plastic free cleaning, plus they are cheaper than the usual shop bought products. So they save you money, and help save the planet too.

Let us know if you try these recipes. We would love to hear your verdict.

The Platinum Jubilee | 7 Decades of Cleaning Trends

Congratulations to her Majesty to Queen on her Platinum Jubilee.  At Just Helpers we’re celebrating by taking a trip through 7 decades of cleaning trends  – the products, the fads and the ads!

The Fifties

In this post-war decade we were looking towards a brighter future. And what could be more futuristic than the Space Race? The Hoover Constellation vacuum cleaner with Sputnik-inspired styling, actually took off – floating over the floor on a cushion of air. We have lift-off!

Back on earth, only around 33% of UK households owned a washing machine. But the growth in their popularity saw the launch of Daz washing powder – still going strong today.

The Sixties

A third of UK households had a fridge in the sixties, and twin-tub washers were the norm on laundry day. 

In the cleaning aisle Vim boasted your sink would be “the cleanest clean it’s ever been” due to it’s Clorox bleach-based germicidal formula. Did it smell as harsh as it sounds?

The Seventies

By 1970, 65% of households owned a washing machine – so it’s not surprising that this was the decade that saw the launch of fabric conditioner, to make all that laundry smell nice!

This decade also saw some of the most memorable TV ads for cleaning products. Who remembers the Shake n Vac ad, first shown in 1979? Can you still sing the jingle?

Astonish – one of our favourite brands – was launched in 1973, selling oven and cookware cleaner door to door.

The Eighties

This decade was all about convenience. We saved time cooking ready meals in the new microwave ovens, and whizzed through the washing with front loading, automatic washing machines. Ariel laundry liquid was launched in 1985, and Ecover, another Just Helpers favourite brand, started in 1989 in Belgium.

The Nineties

The nineties saw a cleaning revolution with the first bagless vacuum cleaners from Dyson. After struggling to get any interest in his design from UK manufacturers, James Dyson sold the first of his new cleaners in Japan – before taking the USA and UK market by storm.

Vacuum cleaning might have been undergoing a revolution, but traditional ideas about housework were still very common. The Daz Doorstep Challenge ads ran throughout the nineties, filling mums with the fear of their grubby whites appearing on national TV.

The Noughties

We saw more floor-cleaning innovation in this decade, with the rising popularity of the Roomba robot vacuum.

With consumers becoming more conscious of the environmental impact of cleaning products, there are more green ranges launched this decade. In 2001 Method launched their first products, and The Pink Stuff Miracle Cleaning Paste appeared on shelves.

The Tens

Instagram launched in 2010 and gained over 10 million users in the first year. And with it came the rise of the cleaning influencers, and their impact on cleaning trends. The “Mrs Hinch” effect saw 100 year old brand Zoflora floral disinfectant back in vogue, with followers eagerly sharing their favourite fragrances. 

The Twenties

We’re only a couple of years in, but it’s been quite a decade already! The COVID 19 pandemic unsurprisingly sparked a huge increase in global sales of surface cleaners. In addition, many people discovered the calming benefits of cleaning their homes during Lockdown. And we are seeing the rise of more eco-friendly cleaning trends – nicer for us, are homes, and the planet.

However you are celebrating the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee, we hope you have a wonderful time.

Recruitment Problems in Cleaning

For the first time in our history, we have recruitment problems. We are struggling to find Helpers to work with us.

In the past, sharing the benefits of working with Just Helpers – our great working conditions, paying at least the London Living Wage, our caring, supportive values – has been enough to attract the right people.

But now, we’re experiencing real difficulties. And we are not alone in our recruitment problems.

A recent report highlighted critical staff shortages in several sectors including retail, warehousing, airport baggage handling, cleaning, and hospitality. In fact, one quarter of medium sized UK companies are experiencing serious recruitment problems which threaten normal operations.

Why Recruitment Problems?

Anecdotally, we hear there’s unease amongst the sections of our communities who would often come to work for us. People who moved to live in the UK from parts of Europe such as Bulgaria, are feeling more uncertain. Since Brexit, they may feel unwelcome here. And the rise in the cost of living is adding to their worries. They are looking for higher pay than sectors like cleaning can afford.

Brexit Impact

Brexit has introduced restrictions on freedom to move to the UK for work. The emphasis is on highly qualified people, or those with skills which are under-represented in the UK workforce. Sadly, the list of Shortage Occupations” does not include many traditionally “blue collar” sectors such as cleaning. And with over 1.66 million active job adverts recorded in August 2021, UK job seekers are not choosing to work in cleaning.

The Pay Dilemma

You may be asking, why don’t we simply increase pay to attract people to work with us? Unfortunately, it’s not that simple. Small cleaning businesses may afford to do this, because their turnover is below the threshold for VAT. However, for medium-sized businesses like ours, the tax burden means that we cannot afford to increase pay without increasing our charges to our clients. And we know our clients are feeling the pinch too.

As well as the recruitment problems, this situation brings other ugly consequences. It plays into the “cash in hand” culture, which places workers at risk of breaking the law if they don’t declare their income. In addition, it further disadvantages bonafide, ethical businesses like ours who want to do the right thing.

So what is the solution to this recruitment crisis in the cleaning industry?

A Potential Workforce

There are thousands of people in the UK right now who are desperate to work, but are prevented from seeking a job because of their immigration status.

The war in Ukraine has brought refugees to this country who want to build a new life for themselves and their families. Ukrainian citizens who have family in the UK, or who are sponsored under the “Homes for Ukraine” scheme, can get a visa which enables them to work here.

However, for those outside of these schemes, the usual points-based immigration system applies, which means Ukrainians who could fill vacancies in sectors such as cleaning, would not be eligible.

In addition, in the UK there are many people who have fled countries other than Ukraine, who are unable to work. These are asylum seekers, who may have to wait months or years for their asylum claim to be processed. During this time they are not allowed get a job, and are trying to survive on as little as £5.66 per day. And under new plans from the UK government, those arriving through illegal routes may be sent across the world to Rwanda.

This seems illogical, as well as inhumane. In a situation which echoes that which brought the Windrush generation to our aid after the Second World War, we need people to fill our vacancies in these key sectors.

Allowing asylum seekers to work in sectors where we have a real recruitment crisis would help the UK economy. It would alleviate shortages on supermarket shelves, and reduce the need for price rises for consumers. And it would give real hope and dignity to people who are simply looking for a safe place to live.

Our Mission

Just Helpers was founded in response to the exploitation of vulnerable people in our cities – including migrant workers. We provide our people with decent working conditions, fair pay and the chance to reach their potential through support and mentoring.

We would welcome the opportunity to recruit people from Ukraine, and elsewhere, who share our values and want to be part of the Just Helpers family. Because we need them to grow our business, just as much as they need us.

Antoinette in Woman Magazine

Easter in Ukraine

This Easter, our thoughts and prayers are with Ukraine.

At Just Helpers we are working to support our Helper Olia, who is from Ukraine, at this very difficult time. I asked Olia how her family would usually be celebrating Easter.

“Easter in Ukraine is a very big celebration, second only to Christmas. In Ukrainian we call Easter ‘Velykden’ which means ‘Great Day’. We celebrate Easter in the Julian Calendar, so it will be the 24th April in Ukraine. As I now live in London, I celebrate Easter twice!

Many of the traditions around Easter in Ukraine as the same as Christian traditions in other parts of the world, but we have some which are particular to our folklore.

Easter Preparations

We start preparing the week before Easter, in Holy Week, which is the week following Palm Sunday. The Thursday of Holy Week is called “Clean Thursday” where we clean the house inside and out. We go to the cemetery to clean the graves of our loved ones, and to plant flowers. We also make painted, decorated eggs called Pysanka.

The Food

We prepare the special food which we will eat at Easter. Food is a very important part of our celebrations. We bake a sweet bread called “Paska” which is similar to panattone. This is part of our Easter basket, along with eggs, butter cheese and salt The contents of the Easter basket is different depending on the traditions of the village where you live.

Food is particularly important at Easter in Ukraine because traditionally people fast during Lent. Nowadays, for many people that might mean giving up meat, but in the past they would also have avoided eating eggs and cheese as well.

On Good Friday, many people will fast all day. They will go to church, read the Bible and pray.

On Saturday, everyone takes their Easter basket to the church to be blessed, but we can’t start eating it until Sunday!

On Easter Sunday, the whole family go to Mass together. We greet each other with “Christ is Risen!” and we will use this greeting when we meet friends and family for a month after Easter.

After church we have a big family feast and we are finally able to enjoy the treats in our Easter basket.

Spring Games

Children will get together in the church yard to play Spring games, such as Hide and Seek. They have “egg battles”, knocking their painted eggs together until they break. The last egg to break is the winner!

The Monday after Easter is a day for remembering family and friends who have died, with a special service in church. This day is also known as “Wet Monday” when children pour water over each other and themselves . In the cities, there are organised events so that children can have fun with water games, and the adults can stay dry!

Easter in London

I have lived in London since August 2020, and I follow many of these traditions with my family here. We make an Easter basket, and take it to be blessed in church. The children have egg battles and throw water around on Wet Monday – fortunately many of our neighbours are Ukrainian so they understand!

My family in Ukraine

This Easter of course I will be thinking of my family back home. My family are safe for now, but the war is getting closer. They live in Western Ukraine, not far from the border with Poland. Recently an empty factory just 7 kilometres was hit by a missile.

We feel very helpless so far away, but we need to stay strong, and provide support in whatever way we can.

We are very grateful for the help being offered by the British people, and we are praying that the war will end soon, and Ukraine will be able to rebuild.”

Olia’s charity of choice is UNICEF.

#BreakTheBias: Creating Change for Women in Cleaning

The theme of  International Women’s Day 2022 is #BreakTheBias. We are invited to imagine a world free of bias, stereotypes and discrimination; a world that is diverse, equitable and inclusive. 

When we see #BreakTheBias, the conversation can often focus on the lack of women in the boardroom, or in senior leadership positions. We can talk about the need to support women and girls to aspire to exciting, highly paid careers in traditionally male-dominated sectors such as tech and engineering. We might discuss the gender balance in local and national government. 

However, achieving equality is also about bringing about change in those industries where women are currently over-represented, and often exploited. Like the cleaning industry.

A Good Day’s Pay for a Good Day’s Work

Cleaning is often perceived as low skilled, low status work.  It may not be the type of work we aspire to. It might sometimes be messy, or unpleasant. But the pandemic showed us all too clearly that cleaners, like care staff, and shop and transport workers, are truly key to our society. This work is vital, and the people who do it deserve respect, decent conditions, and fair pay. And those people are often women. 

Just Helpers was founded out of a passion to end the exploitation of vulnerable people in our communities. I saw first hand how migrant workers, particularly women, experienced low pay and poor conditions. This could mean holding down several jobs and working long hours, just to make ends meet.

At Just Helpers all of our people receive the London Living Wage, – the only UK hourly rate based on real living costs. Sadly this is rare in our industry, but we are campaigning for it to become the norm.

Our Vision: Where every cleaner in the UK gets paid the real living wage and the rest of the world follows suit.  

Achieving Potential

We support the aims of #BreakTheBias to achieve a level playing field by tackling discrimination. A level playing field also means fair and decent pay, to give women the space, energy and choice to focus on their aspirations.

As well as paying fairly, we want to give our people the opportunity and confidence to achieve their potential. Most of our managers started out as Helpers (they are much more than cleaners) – and progressed through training, support and mentoring.

Our team take pride in their work, whether as a Helper or a manager. We provide ongoing training, encourage the sharing of expertise, and reward excellence through our “Helper of the Month” programme. 

In the cleaning industry, 69% of all workers are women, while the majority of management positions, which attract higher pay, are occupied by men. We are leading the way on redressing this balance, by supporting women to take leadership roles within our business.

Leading the Way

Of course, it’s not enough to be sure that our own Helpers are paid fairly. We want to be a catalyst for change across the cleaning industry, and beyond. That’s why I am active in business communities, forging connections and speaking about how to grow a profitable and ethical business. We are proud to be a Living Wage Affiliate. We are working with partner businesses such as our commercial cleaning running mate Clean For Good to showcase what is possible in the cleaning sector. Plus, we are campaigning to change the tax system which makes it so difficult for cleaning businesses to be both profitable and to pay fairly.

Be the Change you Want to See

We want to make it easy for businesses and individuals to do the right thing. We offer excellent, high quality commercial and domestic cleaning across London. As a Just Helpers client, you can be confident that your Helper is being paid fairly and your space will be sparkling clean too. By booking your cleaning with Just Helpers, you really are helping to change the world one clean at a time. 

So for this International Women’s Day, we invite you to remember that the battle to #BreaktheBias is not just in the boardroom, or the C-Suite. It’s not just about equal pay, vital though that is. It’s also about pay and working conditions which end the exploitation of women, enable them to have choices, and achieve their potential and aspirations, whatever they may be. 

7 Reasons Why Cleaning is Good for your Love Life

Show your home and yourself a little love this Valentines.  Here’s 7 reasons why cleaning is good for your love life – from Just Helpers London.

1. Valentines is all about showing love to the people who matter most – and that includes you! Your home should be your haven, so making sure it’s clean, calm and restful is an act of self-care.

2. Valentines treats and romantic gestures take a little planning ahead. An organised space means an organised mind – and more time to think about your perfect evening. Dinner planned? Check. Candles? Check. HUGE box of Chocolates? Check check check. 

3. Whether you’re getting ready for a date night or snuggling on the sofa with a soppy film, a clean, tidy space will help you to feel calmer and more relaxed. Research shows that clutter and mess can increase stress, so set the mood with a good clean.

4. Got a big evening planned for Valentines? Invite your date back for coffee with confidence, without worrying about unwashed dishes or crumbs on the carpet. Make sure your home is spick and span before you head out of the door.

5. If you’re looking for a new love interest this Valentines, then getting out and socialising is a great start. Hand over the cleaning to Just Helpers, and free up some time for fun, friendship and maybe more….

6. Or are you scratching your head for the perfect Valentines gift? Forget roses, or cherubs, or pink fluffy hearts. NOTHING says “I love you” like a clean home.

7. Nothing bursts that romantic bubble faster than a row about whose turn it is to clean the bathroom. Why not leave the cleaning to us, so you can focus on the important things? 

 Whatever Valentines Day brings you, a clean space is guaranteed to deliver a warm glow of calm and wellbeing. What better proof do you need that cleaning is good for your love life!

New Year, New Way – Connecting for Good

If COVID19 has taught us anything, it is about the power of connecting for good. So, what can you do in 2022 to bring good connections into your life and work?

Socially Distanced

During the pandemic, we have all been asked to maintain “social distance” to help to slow the spread of the COVID19 virus. That might mean standing 2 metres apart in a queue, or sitting apart on a bus. At times, it has meant staying indoors or working from home. 

And it has been tough for all of us. We have missed coming together with family and friends, whether to celebrate, or to support one another through difficult times. We have missed chatting with colleagues over a coffee, or exchanging news at the school gate.

Staying Connected

However, whilst these measures have sometimes kept us apart physically, we have all learned the importance of staying connected in other ways. We’ve learned how to hold a birthday party over Zoom, and we’ve discovered the positive power of social media to stay in touch with friends and colleagues. 

In our communities, many of us feel more connected now than we did before the pandemic. Whether through volunteering, checking on vulnerable neighbours, clapping on the doorstep or shopping local, we have discovered the value of connecting for good.

As well as supporting others, research has shown that these connections have helped us to maintain and even improve our wellbeing. People who got involved in volunteering were more likely to feel a sense of satisfaction and purpose. Even people who helped by offering small, informal acts of kindness improved their own mental well being. Helping other people helps us to feel better too. 

Valuing People

As well as helping others, we have formed connections through valuing people. Our emergency services and the NHS have always been valued, and rightly so. But during the pandemic we have recognised other, unsung heroes – our shop workers, our transport workers – and our cleaners. 

As we go into 2022, at Just Helpers we want to continue to harness the power of connection. We want to translate that recognition of the importance of low paid workers such as cleaners, into meaningful action. 

Better Together

We  are connecting with those businesses in our industry who, like us, are taking a stand against modern slavery. We will be celebrating the work of Radiant Cleaners in Nottingham, supporting people experiencing poverty back into work, and our Living Wage commercial cleaning running mates Clean4Good here in London. We will be collaborating on our common purpose, because we are stronger together. 

We will continue to champion the London Living Wage and encourage other businesses to become Living Wage Employers. We will carry on our campaigning work for change in the cleaning industry, so that decent pay and decent working conditions become the norm, not a rarity.

I will be hosting an event with the Good Business Club in January, to help London businesses who are doing good things to form a network. If YOU would like to attend, you can find more details here:

I hope this will be the first of many opportunities to make good connections in 2022 – because together we can change the world for the better.

Having it all? Outsource at home to achieve your goals

What are your goals for 2022? What does success look like for you, not just in your work, but in your life?

In this article we will explore how you can outsource at home to make space for you to achieve your goals, whatever they may be.

Your goals – big and small

For most of us, success is about much more than a number on your payslip, or even the balance in your bank account. 

Most of us have a multitude of goals in our lives. Some are more achievable than others. We might have a five year plan for career progression, or a longer term goal to start our own business. We might be training to run a marathon in the next 12 months, or finish a novel.

Many of us have small, every day goals which we try, and often fail, to achieve. Whether it’s closing our “move” rings on our smart watches, practising that meditation we’ve committed to, or getting enough sleep, few of us are “winning” at everything. The juggle of work, family or caring responsibilities, and running the home, mean we don’t quite manage to do it all. And that’s hardly surprising. We are not super-human. 

Defining Success

So what is the solution? Should we accept that we cannot have it all, and some of our goals will fall by the wayside? Or should we give up on our goals altogether? 

Perhaps the starting point is to decide how we define success, as individuals. It is easy to get caught up in comparison with friends, or colleagues, who appear to be succeeding with a new car, or a gruelling fitness regime. However, their definition of success might be very different to yours. So what does success look like to you?

It might be:

  • Getting to the gym 3 times a week
  • Being there to read a bedtime story to your children 
  • Having a clean, calm space to come home to
  • Having meals planned out for the week 
  • Having time for lunch with friends twice a month
  • Enjoying a bubble bath in peace

Buy time with outsourcing

Many of our goals are actually about having time, not about money. So, one solution is to use your income to buy yourself time, by outsourcing.

In business, outsourcing is an accepted, smart way to grow. It makes sense to pay someone else to do day to day tasks such as book-keeping, or admin, to buy time to spend on more strategic priorities.

But we can also outsource at home to help us to achieve our success goals in our personal lives too. By outsourcing some of those day to day tasks, it is possible to buy time for the important things that help us to feel as though we are succeeding. 

Here is a list of tasks that can easily be outsourced:

  • Cleaning
  • Laundry
  • Ironing
  • Ordering and putting away groceries
  • Dropping off and picking up dry cleaning
  • Booking appointments and reservations
  • Preparing for guests
  • Meal preparation
  • Pet care

Here at Just Helpers Liberty, we can do all of these tasks and more. We offer a bespoke housekeeping service to suit you. 

Which daily tasks could you outsource at home? Buy yourself the time you need for your goals, whatever they may be – and leave the rest to us.

Contact our team today to arrange a consultation. 

Need a hand cleaning your home?

Life in London is demanding and time is at a premium. Get some sparkle back into your life and home with one of our domestic cleaning packages.

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We provide a regular cleaning service for offices and commercial premises in the Greater London area, helping you maintain a professional, healthy and productive work and business environment.

We’d love to chat with you, see your space and walk you through our process.

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