Christian cleaning initiative launched

15 May 2015

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CLEANERS in London have been described as a "hidden army". Working long hours to keep the offices of the City gleaming, they are paid as little as £6.85 an hour.

An alternative is being launched by an inner-city church, St Andrew-by-the-Wardrobe: a cleaning business that pays a fair wage, and offers good conditions to its employees. "We think that, if you know your cleaner can avoid getting three night buses into work, or getting a second job after working from 11 p.m. to 5 a.m., you may be willing to be pay that extra," Miriam Goodacre, the parish's corporate-responsibility officer, said.

Last year, the church commissioned the Centre for Theology and Community (CTC) to conduct research into the needs of the parish, and discovered the poor working conditions of some of those working in the City.

With the support of the CTC, the church is preparing to launch Clean for Good, a not-for-profit company that will pay the Living Wage for London (£9.15 an hour). Employees will have guaranteed minimum hours, paid sick leave, paid annual leave, and will be offered training and development. Products will be "eco-friendly" and Fairtrade, wherever possible. The company will work alongside charities to recruit and train cleaners from disadvantaged backgrounds.

"If you want a fair cleaning service, then it is going to cost more," the development director at CTC, Tim Thorlby, said. "The alternative is that we turn our backs on justice in our economy, and we do not believe that there is a long-term future in that."

A grant from the Corporation of London means that a business plan has been developed, and capital is now being raised. A total of £100,000 is needed to launch the company, which, it is hoped, will happen in the summer. Clients in the City are also sought.

The Priest-in-Charge of St Andrew's, the Revd Guy Treweek, said that the initiative meant "giving people an opportunity to become closer to the person God made them to be: valued, self-confident, able to support themselves."

For further information email miriam@standrewbythewardrobe.co.uk.

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