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What the Venus Award Means to Just Helpers – from our Founder Antoinette Daniel

“Just Doing the Right Thing” is at the heart of what Just Helpers is all about.

So when I was recognised as Employer of the Year in London, in the Venus Awards, I couldn’t have been more thrilled.

What are the Venus Awards?

The Venus Awards have been called “The working women’s Oscars”. They recognise the achievements of hard-working women, and female-friendly businesses, across the country. I was lucky enough to be nominated for the award by a Just Helpers customer. From 45 nominations, I made it down to the shortlist of 4. Then, at a glamour-filled ceremony at the Waldorf Hotel in London, I was announced as the winner! For me, the award is a recognition of the achievements of the whole team at Just Helpers.

Values

I founded Just Helpers out of a passion for justice, fair pay and decent working conditions. Inspired by my charity work with an anti human-trafficking organisation, I placed these values at the heart of the business.

In our cities, vulnerable migrant workers, and particularly women, are often exploited by unscrupulous employers with poor pay and working conditions.  I saw this injustice first hand, and so I decided to begin my own business to provide an alternative – providing domestic and commercial cleaning services.

The Just Helpers Approach

Being an ethical, professional business which nurtures and supports women is central to the Just Helpers Approach.

  • Paying the London Living Wage – a good day’s work for a good day’s pay
  • Developing People – mentoring our Helpers to improve their confidence and communication
  • Professionalism –through our process of vetting, hands on interview and shared standards, we ensure your Helper is right for you
  • Pride – Our Helper of the Month Award, nominated by our clients, rewards a job well done
  • Recognising Potential – where we can, we grow our Helpers into Managers

Campaigning

Campaigning is a big part of who I am. The award has been a great opportunity to encourage people to follow the Just Helper’s approach. In my acceptance speech I said: “Please make sure you know how much you pay your cleaner and if you are going to use an agency, make sure they are ethical. A good day’s work for a good day’s pay – everyone deserves that.

A good day’s work for a good day’s pay – everyone deserves that.

Just Helpers is affiliated to the Living Wage Foundation. This organisation campaigns for workers to be paid fair wages which reflects actual living costs in the capital, and across the nation.

Expertise

In further recognition of what we have achieved at Just Helpers, I am excited to have been asked to be a Champion for the London Mayor’s “Good Work Standard”. This initiative aims to bring together the best employment practices in London. It will work to raise standards for workers across the city, through educating employers and informing government policy. I’m looking forward to sharing my expertise and working alongside them to ensure a robust and fair policy for all sizes of businesses.

The Future

The Venus Award has been a wonderful opportunity to celebrate and to reflect on all that we have achieved so far at Just Helpers. The positive validation from someone outside the agency has encouraged us to punch bigger and higher. Our greater passion has now become to end exploitation within the UK cleaning agency. Watch this space!

Over the coming months, Just Helpers will continue to grow, with a new Just Helpers App, an exciting new rebrand and new services such as Lifestyle Support for people in retirement.

A Christmas Message from Antoinette the Founder

Merry Christmas from Just Helpers!

As an office team, we want to take this opportunity to say thank you for trusting us to find great cleaning colleagues who match your home and office spaces over this past year. This year has been a big year of growth for us, which has been exciting and has kept us all very busy. We are excited about the creation of our new App which will be launched in the first quarter of next year. This will help to ease communication, allow you and your Helper to keep up with your cleaning schedules, give you an easy platform to make comments and allow you to connect with the team more readily.

It was thrilling to have our 3 babies in the manager’s team and the arrival of baby Matthew to Monika in September has been wonderful – more on that in January!

Empowering Women

Being nominated by one of you for a Venus award this year was also very humbling, and much more making it through to the final 4 and a ‘juoozy’ awards evening at the Waldorf with the team on the 3rd as an Employer of the year has been an interesting journey. We look forward to announcing the results.

Spreading Christmas Cheer

Many of you ask me about potential gifts for your Helper. For all of the team, the very best thing for them is a monetary tip as they are often trying to support family still located in their countries of origin. I will leave this between you and your cleaner, but please do be mindful of your last cleaning day before Christmas with your regular Helper. I would suggest just leaving a card etc, in a prominent place where she is likely to find it. Last year I can honestly say that most of my team were moved to tears because of your generosity. Thank you in advance.

Our Christmas Charity Appeal

We are supporting two charities this year:

The first is Bulgarian charity spearheaded by Olga one of our cleaning colleagues. She and a group of friends organise a busload of items to be delivered to a charity that cares for Children in the care system in Bulgaria. There is a desperate need for items of clothing, toiletries, stationery and toys. As many of our team are Bulgarian, we want to get behind this in two ways:

Our team will rally together to donate various second-hand items from their family. Secondly, any money raised by the team for both this and our UK charity below will be matched by the agency. We will divide the money and have a day as a team in the spring where we create as many gift-boxes as we can to send with the next bus that Olga and her friends will organise. We would LOVE it if you could consider donating some money towards this.

The second is Children with Cancer UK. This was the charity that is close to our manager Yana Yaneva’s heart and won the team’s vote too. Already as a team, we have raised over £600. This will be matched pound for pound by the agency. Could you join us in donating to this charity too? Find out more at https://www.childrenwithcancer.org.uk

Christmas Festivities near you

We currently clean for 9 great churches and their clergy around London. I know that they will be busily planning their Christmas services now. If the thought of Carols by Candlelight, Alfrescosinging, festive wreath making, midnight mass, an evening of carols at your local jazz bar, Children’s Nativity service, a Christmas market or the chance to find out what Christmas is really all about beyond the trees, carols, Santa and gifts piques your interest, why not drop into one of their services or a church more local to you. See below for details of our connections:

Streatham Central Church
Dundonald Church Wimbledon
Hornsey Parish Church
St Michael’s Battersea
St Thomas More Swiss Cottage
St Peter’s Bethnal Green
St Andrew’s Chelsea
The Bridge Battersea Community Church
St Mary Abbots Parish Church Kensington

Christmas and New Year often provide a time and space for us to reboot, rethink and in some cases change direction. I pray for safety and well-being for each and every one of you as you pause, reflect, spend time with family and friends and enter into a new year.

Wishing you a wonderful Christmas!
Warmest wishes,
Antoinette, Lydia, Monika, Vivian, Vanya, Yana, Yana, and the Just Helpers Team

Just Helpers Journey – by Antoinette Daniel

Just Helpers Journey – The Reason

I started the company in 2013 when I landed an amazing part-time job working for an anti-human trafficking organisation.

Having loved being a secondary school teacher for 12 years, the cut in salary to pursue something that I am so passionate about was tricky. I have always loved cleaning for friends and family and took pride in seeing peoples faces after my efforts. Coming home after a long day of work and knowing that your home space is serene, organised and clean is a joy to behold. Ensuring that “wow” and “ahhhh” feeling when clients get home still gives me the same satisfaction today. This motivation was key in inspiring and brainstorming business ideas to help support my charity work. So through my love of cleaning and hard work a business was born.

Small Beginnings

Consequently, through friends at church, I was connected to my first amazing client (Eve, how apt!) and the cleaning agency has rapidly grown from there.  My passion for justice, fair pay and working conditions was at the core of the business from the very beginning. As I received more and more referrals the business grew and gradually evolved through word of mouth recommendations. From a one-woman business to appointing my first colleagues Barbara and Yana Yaneva along the way, to what you see today – Just Helpers.

It was clear by 2015 that my role should evolve more strategically and I should continue to combine my two passions:

Cleaning and Empowering Women

Unfortunately, through my anti-trafficking work, I saw first hand the exploitation that happens in all communities even those right on our doorsteps. In our UK neighbourhoods, vulnerable people are taken advantage of and not given the opportunities, rights and kindnesses that every person should be afforded. I knew early on that If I could provide an alternative career, where women were nurtured and encouraged to build their own businesses: then my vision would help many individuals in their own journeys.

Fair pay and good working conditions are rare in the cleaning industry

I decided that this ethic should underpin everything that we do. So “Just doing the right thing’ became our motto. Just Helpers from its very inception have been proud affiliates of the London Living Wage Foundation. An organisation campaigning tirelessly to ensure fair pay is awarded to workers and help highlight the poverty crisis in the UK (please find out more here). Just Helpers supports your cleaner by ensuring they receive an equitable wage from their clients but my conscience pushed that we go way beyond that. Just Helpers is my family and I instil pride and enthusiasm in all of my teammates from the very start. With a team of great in-house, ‘home-grown’ managers, we mentor your Helper to improve their confidence and assist them in their communication with their clients.  Where we see Helpers with the potential for growth beyond cleaning, we promote them to be a manager at the earliest opportunity.

Ethics are central to our company operations and we employ this internally within our office team and in our interactions with you and your cleaner.

We have grown to be a management agency providing London cleaning services for both domestic and commercial clients. We act on behalf of professional, affordable and conscientious cleaners (we prefer the term ‘Helpers’), who will love your home like their own. Our experience in the industry enables us to help you and your Helper develop a strong, solid relationship.

All of our Helpers providing cleaning services in London are vetted and put through three hands-on cleaning interviews to make sure that they are the right Helper for you.  We want to know that they subscribe to a shared standard that they have agreed upon as a collective over time. This is ever-changing, especially as new Helpers join the ranks and share their expertise. We have learnt how to spot a great ‘Helper’ through our robust interview process and are regularly approached by women wanting to join Just Helpers as our honest, fair and empowering reputation spreads across communities both here and abroad. I am so proud and delighted to advocate and administrate for such a committed team of colleagues.

So that is the Just Helpers Journey so far. What’s next?

The Future

Being a South Londoner, London has always been my home but since childhood, I have had a love of the sea. In my younger years as a teacher, I taught both in the UK and in Africa and have been fortunate enough to travel broadly.  Even with experiencing many countries, I love nothing more than coming home. This summer I took the first step in making my longer-term dream come true. I moved to live by the sea. Just Helpers now has a team of Operations Managers and over 40 Helpers providing high quality, reliable and efficient cleaning. My aim is to eventually own my own home by the sea and help raise teenagers through fostering.

This is my 5-year plan

Professionally, Just Helpers must continue to grow and I have some great people supporting me in navigating the next exciting phase of growth. I have also been privileged to have been invited to contribute to the Mayor of London’s ‘Good Work Standard’ initiative as a Champion.  The aim of this initiative is to promote equitable and nurturing working standards in London businesses. This exciting committee should help to educate and inform other businesses and government policy in this sector. Ensuring working conditions improve for all is the focus for the future.

I am also extremely excited to have been nominated for the Venus Women’s Awards (by one of our clients) in the category of ‘Employer of the Year – London’. This team effort is a great recognition of how far we have come. We are thrilled to have just found out we are Finalists. The whole management team will attend a lovely event in December to find out if we win. Regardless of the outcome I am so proud of everyone and cannot wait to celebrate!

Who knows what the future holds after that, Homecare and Life Administration is another string to our bow coming soon to London’s postcodes. A new system and App to streamline our communication between Helpers, Clients and the office team,  Just Helpers in another part of the UK…Watch this space!

For now though lets ‘Just’ take one step at a time!  And thank-you to all of those who have journeyed with us along the way.

Our Very Late Christmas Party!

Having your Christmas party in February allows you to not only splash out a bit more but also extend the festive cheer a little bit further!

Not only were we celebrating new threads, but we had so much more to celebrate: With 26 new Helpers in the team since January 2016 what better way to celebrate together than to hold an awards ceremony. And the winners are…

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