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Should I Clean for the Cleaner?

This month it’s “Thank Your Cleaner Day”. So just how SHOULD you say thank you?  And should you clean for the cleaner? 

We are cleaning experts, with our Helpers working in homes and businesses across London. Here is our worry-free guide to getting the best from your cleaning service. 

Should I clean for the cleaner?

You definitely shouldn’t feel worried or embarrassed if your space is untidy. Having a cleaner should not be another source of stress. Our Helpers love to clean and transform your space into a sparkling clean and calming place to come home to. 

However, putting away clothes, tidying toys, and washing dishes all take time, and that means less time for vacuuming, or cleaning kitchen surfaces, for example.  So, if your clean is a short one, you might want to make the most of your cleaner’s time and have a quick tidy before they arrive.  But please don’t feel you need to clean for your cleaner!

Should I tell my cleaner what I want them to do?

If there are particular tasks you really want your cleaner to do, it’s a great idea to leave written instructions. That way, you can both be clear about your priorities. You might like to leave a few tasks which can be done if there’s time left over, such as ironing. 

Make sure you think about how long your cleaner will be in your home, so your instructions are realistic. 

When you book your cleaning through Just Helpers, our team will visit your home. This gives us time to discuss your priorities and assess your needs, so we can tell you how long your cleaning visit should be.  Plus, you can contact our office team any time, and we will make sure your message is communicated to your regular Helper, and cover Helpers too. 

Should I go out when my cleaner comes?

 It’s quicker to do all the vacuuming, or dusting, at once, and this is much easier when there’s no-one home. However, we know it’s not always possible, and our Helpers are happy to work around you. That might mean cleaning one room at a time, for example. 

What about cleaning equipment?

When you are arranging your cleaning, it’s important to check what equipment and products they will need. Chat with your cleaner about their recommendations, and make sure you are both happy with your choices. 

As part of our new client visit, we will look at what cleaning equipment you have available. We also have a recommended kit list, with tried and tested products that we love. We prefer eco-friendly brands such as Delphis Eco, Astonish, Method and Ecover because they are a healthier choice for you, your Helper and the planet. 

Just Helpers Tip

Make sure your vacuum cleaner is empty and working well, with strong suction. This will save time for your Helper so they can get more done during their visit. It’s a great idea to invest in a good vacuum cleaner too. We love Miele and Shark. 

This is down to personal choice, of course.  Our Helpers bring their own snacks and drinks, but may help themselves to water. Unless their visit is more than 4 hours, they will not take a break. So feel free to make yourself a coffee and relax while our Helpers work their magic!

How should I thank my cleaner? 

At Just Helpers, we believe the best way to show you appreciate your cleaner is to ensure they receive fair pay and decent working conditions. That’s why all our Helpers receive the London Living Wage, as well as sick pay and holiday pay too. Isn’t that more meaningful than flowers or chocolates?

If you want to feel good about booking your cleaning, call Just Helpers. We are changing the world for the better, one clean at a time. 

Antoinette’s Christmas 2020 Message

Despite the many challenges of 2020, there are signs of hopeful change that we can all hold on to.

What a difference a year makes! Last Christmas, my parting words were, “may you know love in action this year”. Who knew the tremendous worldwide challenge, loss, heartache, confusion, unity, resilience, and love that the Corona Virus pandemic would force into place.

Standing Together

I know that 2020 has been an immense year of cyclical challenges, but I want to reflect on some of the grace notes that have kept me going and shown just how wonderful human beings can be.

  • The resilience of the NHS and our pride and support of it
  • This renewed concept of shielding, and making sacrificial decisions to keep our loved ones safe
  • The real and encouraging shift that seems to be taking place within our thinking and culture, following the tragic murder of George Floyd and the protests of the Black Lives Matter movement
  • The sense of communities coming together to support and help each other out.

As we look forward to a year that will see the development of a vaccine and our exit from the EU, I hope that our sense of standing together and being kind to our neighbours is not forgotten.

My Thanks

I want to take this opportunity to thank our long-standing clients who fully embraced the cost of enabling their Helper to have 4 weeks paid leave, who continue to treat their Helper like an extended member of their family, and who remember that far from being an invisible magic fairy, that they too have hopes and dreams.

I want to thank our fabulous cleaning colleagues, our team of Helpers who faithfully and resiliently continue to deliver excellent cleans, exhibiting deep nurturing care for their clients week by week.

I want to thank the office team who have tirelessly worked, worried, planned, adapted, pivoted through the whole of this year, and still continue to help create exceedingly excellent cleaning experiences for everyone in the Just Helpers community.

I know that Christmas may look different for each of us this year. But may you know good health, strong community and be filled with hope as we look forward into next year.

Merry Christmas

Antoinette and the Just Helpers Team

Doing the Right Thing with Just Helpers – Lydia’s Story

When Lydia first met Just Helpers Founder Antoinette, she knew she wanted to be part of it.

Doing the right thing is at the heart of Just Helpers, from a commitment to fairness, to the London Living Wage, and this appealed to Lydia straight away.“It was an instant click,” she says. “Antoinette’s ethos, passion and commitment is so inspirational.”

Working for Just Helpers

Lydia is our Finance and Enquiries Manager, and brought valuable experience to the business. Before taking a break to care for her children, Lydia had worked as an Executive Assistant to the Chief Information Officer in a large insurance company. A friend, ActionCoach James Dodd, introduced her to Just Helpers.

For Lydia, it’s the people that make Just Helpers so special. “We are a fabulous team,” she says. “We’re passionate about ensuring that we do the right thing for our clients, our Helpers and the company, and I’m proud to be part of it.”

Doing the right thing in 2020

Perhaps unsurprisingly, Lydia sees dealing with the COVID-19 pandemic as being the biggest challenge she has faced with Just Helpers. After weeks of uncertainty, the team had make sure that the business could continue to deliver a service in a way that is safe for clients and Helpers alike. Again, for Lydia, it was the people that made it possible. “Our Helpers carried on, our clients supported us, we supported each other. If we hadn’t been as strong and determined, I don’t think we would have survived this far.”

Job Satisfaction

As well as the flexibility of working from home, Lydia enjoys the opportunities for learning at just Helpers. Her role has provided lots of opportunity to develop new skills, through working in different areas of the business as well as learning new software applications.

Again, Lydia recognises that the team has played a big role in her development too. “I really value feedback from the team. I’m quite a talkative person and I’ve learned to listen more, and pause before I speak. I was already quite calm but It’s made me calmer.”

As the first point of contact for new clients, Lydia spends a lot of time of the phone. “It can be quite nerve-racking, but I really enjoy it and I’m developing my communication skills all the time,” she says.

The satisfaction of working for a business that is doing the right thing makes it all worthwhile for Lydia. “I get up every day and look forward to doing my job,” she says, … “I look forward to all our dreams and aspirations coming to fruition.”

Find out more about how Just Helpers is doing the right thing, on our website.

The Real Cost of Cleaning – Creating Change in the Cleaning Industry

I founded Just Helpers after seeing first hand the exploitation which migrant workers – and particularly women – were experiencing in our cities. I wanted to offer an alternative – a cleaning business which paid fairly, offered decent working conditions and developed potential in our people.

I’m proud of what Just Helpers has achieved. But if we are to see meaningful change in the cleaning industry, we need to address the real cost of cleaning. We need to tackle some fundamental issues, nationally. And we can’t do that alone.

A Clean Conscience?

A recent report from Clean For Good, our main ‘running mate’ in the cleaning industry, estimated that in 2020, 60% of workers in the cleaning sector still earn less than the Living Wage.

The report states that the Low Pay Commission estimate 1 in 5 cleaners in the UK who were entitled to the Minimum Wage were actually being paid less than this by their employer. Remember – the Minimum wage is widely recognised to be a poverty wage, which means that someone working full time being paid the Minimum Wage would still be living in poverty.

The Clean For Good report urged businesses who are outsourcing cleaning, to ensure that their cleaning provider shares their values. “Too many employers don’t just outsource a service, they unwittingly outsource their values and responsibilities too.”

The Challenges we Face

We share the vision expressed in the Clean For Good report.  However, while Clean For Good focus on providing commercial cleaning,  at Just Helpers, we want to provide domestic cleaning to ethically minded individuals in their own homes.

But, we face some big challenges.

 Price – The Real Cost of Cleaning

We pass as much of the cleaning charge as possible on to our Helpers. All of our Helpers receive the London Living Wage.

However, we also need to keep our charges as low as we can so we remain affordable to our clients.

The challenge is to pay our Helpers a decent wage, while remaining competitive in a crowded cleaning market.

We want to highlight the real cost of domestic cleaning. That’s not just about the amount your cleaner is paid. It’s also about the cost to their health and well-being of low wages, and uncertain income.

We want to reveal the cleaning industry’s dirty secret of exploitation, low wages and poor working conditions. And, we want to offer an ethical, quality, affordable alternative to people who want a clean home and a clean conscience.

Survival – A Profitable Business

Since April 2020 the domestic side of our business has been profitable for the first time. This is as a result of some changes we made to our contracts. We increased our rates, and we now require our clients to pay for their cleaning, even if they cancel.

This is important so that our business can survive tough economic times and continue to offer decent, predictable pay to our Helpers, and a quality, reliable service to our clients.

Taxation -An Unfair Burden

We believe that low margin industries like ours should sit within a lower VAT bracket.

Currently, cleaning services are subject to 20% VAT. This high tax burden encourages illegal practices such as “cash in hand”.

In the current COVID-19 climate, some industries such as hospitality have been moved into a lower VAT bracket to help them survive.

We would like to see the cleaning industry moved into the 5% VAT bracket, permanently.  This would lead to better regulation, better working conditions and ultimately more money being paid by our industry in taxation.

Changes to Employment  Law

The “gig economy” has been the subject of much criticism recently. However, the fact remains that some workers want the flexibility that being self-employed offers. Plus, the additional costs of being an employer, and the risks associated with uncertain income, mean that we, like many cleaning businesses, cannot afford to directly employ our Helpers.

We need changes to employment law to protect workers and protect businesses, so that direct employment becomes viable.

Sharing the Challenge

My passion is for people, and for tackling injustice and doing the right thing.

But these challenges are too big for me to tackle alone. I need people with the know-how to navigate these issues, so that we can achieve change for the cleaning industry at national level.

Will you join me? Get involved – join our End Exploitation Facebook Group and share your energy, experience and expertise to help us.

Growing from Helper to Manager: Monika’s Story

Investing in our people is a big part of what we stand for at Just Helpers.  As part of our ethical ethos, we mentor our Helpers to grow in confidence, improve their communications skills, and where we can, to promote our Helpers to become managers. This is Monika’s Just Helpers’ journey from Helper to Manager.

 

Finding Just Helpers

Back in Bulgaria, Monika worked as a store manager.

Then, when she first moved to London she worked as a cleaner and also worked evening shifts in a pub in the city.

When Monika heard about Just Helpers she saw an opportunity to improve her financial situation. “I first found out about Just Helpers when I saw an ad on Facebook,” says Monika. “To be honest, the London Living Wage was a big part of why I decided to start working as a Helper. It really helped to top up my finances as well as working in the pub.”

 

Working for Just Helpers

Monika has come to really value what Just Helpers stands for.”The best thing about working for Just Helpers is knowing that you are working for an ethically and morally driven cleaning company,” she says.  “Everyone is treated fairly, and [the founder] Antoinette is really supportive and kind”.

It has also been a great opportunity to learn and develop. “I’ve learned how to work more productively,” explains  Monika.”I’ve also learned how to understand people who are different from me, and how to help them. And I’ve learned how to resolve complaints in a timely manner, which can sometimes be tricky!”

 

From Helper to Manager

To begin with, Monika found the step up from Helper to manager a big challenge, but it was one she was ready to take on.  “When I first became I manager I found it a little overwhelming and stressful, but I’ve loved it. I felt like I was growing, and I was well  prepared, so within a couple of months I was enjoying it,” she says.

Monika’s experience as a Helper has really benefited her work as a manager. “I think it’s really important that I worked as a Helper myself,” she says.  “It means that  I can help my Helper colleagues with navigation, with cleaning tips, accounting tips, with their mental health, and provide support.”

Her new role has provided Monika with lots of opportunities to develop. “I’ve learned to overcome my introvert side, and unlocking my extrovert side, so I can communicate more efficiently with people,” she explains. “I’ve also learned to be more open… I feel that I’ve grown up, I’ve become more mature and down to earth.”

 

Goals for 2020

With the current Corona Virus pandemic, this has been a challenging year for everyone at Just Helpers, but Monika is clear about what she wants to achieve. “In my work, my goals are to keep delivering great cleans to our lovely clients, and to keep supporting our Helpers during this Corona Virus outbreak,” she says. “In my personal life I want to keep my family safe.  I want to place my little boy into nursery and to juggle the work, financial and family parts of my life.”

Longer term, Monika sees herself as continuing her career with Just Helpers.  “In five years time I would love to be working for Just Helpers, if they’ll have me! I would also like to explore my tech side, and as this is part of the company’s growth plans, Just Helpers is the perfect situation for me at the moment – and I’m very happy about it!”

 

If you want to know more about what makes us different, visit our website.

 

Commercial Cleaning for your Business

During this lockdown period I’ve been working on a really exciting project with Sussex Innovation Centre to look at the future direction of Just Helpers.  In particular I’ve been looking at our commercial cleaning service.

 

Exciting Opportunity

At a Female Founders Event in February, I talked with a member of the Innovation Centre team about Just Helpers. It was so exciting to reflect on where we have come from, with someone who was seeing the business for the first time – a “fresh pair of eyes.”

Following this event, Sussex Innovation Centre gave us 12 free hours of business coaching, as part of a project funded by the European Union.

This comes at a great time for Just Helpers. Over the last few months we have been  thinking about who our clients are, what we can do better, and how we can connect with more commercial clients in particular. We already provide a great service to a number of commercial clients, and our Helpers have been asking for more of this type of work.

I spent some time with Simon Chuter from the Innovation Centre where he helped me to really focus on what we offer to our commercial clients and what makes it special.

 

Our Commercial Cleaning Service

At Just Helpers we  really care about our service.  That means:

  • Attention to detail and being responsive
  • Supporting our Helpers so they stay with us – our high retention is rare in the cleaning industry
  • Being an integral part of your team
  • Contribute to a company’s CSR as with every hour of cleaning purchased, we donate to a B1G1 project
  • Every Helper is paid the London Living Wage as a minimum
  • Taking care of your cleaning so you don’t have to!

 

Reaching New Clients

Simon is going to be developing a marketing plan for Just Helpers to help us to reach more of the commercial clients we want to work with. I am so grateful for the European Union Funding which has made this possible.

We are looking forward to working with some new commercial clients in the future. So if you are:

  • A business of 5-30 members of staff
  • Looking for 6-10 hours of cleaning a week
  • Located in Farringdon, Blackfriars, Holborn, Euston, London Bridge, Oxford St, Soho, Tottenham Court Rd, Islington, Victoria

please get in touch.

Of course we will still be providing our great service to our domestic clients too!

 

My Vision

Like many small to medium-sized business owners, I am often juggling many different aspects of the business – I often feel like a “jack of all trades”!   So it’s great to have real experts on board and supporting Just Helpers.

In addition, I will also be working with Anne-Fay Townsend looking at my role as a female founder, and my hopes and dreams for the future of the business – and they are big!

 

Involving the Team 

We’ll be holding a remote team training day for our managers in the coming weeks to look at how these developments can be rolled out across the business.  At the end of that day we will be having a whole team Zoom AGM involving the Helpers, to get their feedback and ideas.

Over the coming weeks I will be sharing regular updates with you.  Watch our for my Tuesday Thoughts, live on our Facebook page every Tuesday at around 6.15pm.

#EC1 #EC2 #EC3 #EC4 #E1 #WC1 #WC2 #SE1 #W1 #N1 #SW1

 

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.

Looking for commercial cleaning?

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.

Call us

020 3995 4810 - Clients
020 3995 4820 - Helpers

Email us

info@justhelpers.co.uk

Our office

Kings Parade, Lower Coombe Road, Croydon, CR0 1AA

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