Scaling-up cleaning-up

Thrive, UnLtd’s social business accelerator, offers truly specialist support for social ventures like Radiant Cleaners, who provide meaningful employment

A certified and award-winning living wage employer, Nottingham-based Radiant Cleaners provided supportive employment for 20 people in 2018. Their employees are often long-term unemployed and face multiple barriers to work, such as drug and alcohol addiction, homelessness, mental health barriers or disabilities.

The cleaning industry employs over 700,000 individuals across the UK. The industry contributes over £24.4 billion to the economy and is a vital service for businesses and the public sector to run effectively. However, employees can be vulnerable to anti-social hours in a job that is often exhaustive, and sometimes exploitative, of employees.

Radiant Cleaners have been working to change this. They go well above minimum business practices in the cleaning industry. Their patient on-boarding process offers the chance to trial the job first, bespoke job-matching, and skills development. In the financial year 2018 – 2019, they paid approximately £75,000 to their employees – £10,000 above the average in the industry.

For Bill, who started his first job 35 years after leaving school, this has been an important change in his life. As a key member of the Radiant Cleaners team, he has said just how important this opportunity has been for him: “When I was homeless, you just feel like you’re worth nothing at all. Now I feel great, happy and worth something.”

As Matt Parfitt, Managing Director and Founder, says: “Cleaning is a service that is always going to be needed. We are not offering an innovative product – but we are saying that you don’t have to accept the status quo. It is possible to run a sustainable, competitive business that has its employees at the heart of it.”

Over the last 6 months we have helped the ventures on our Thrive: Access to Employment accelerator better understand, measure and celebrate their social impact, so that it’s tied in to their core business strategy and activities. This support has involved running a combination of workshops and working one-to-one with ventures. We’ve helped ventures articulate their theory of change, prioritise what to measure and develop plans to collect data. UnLtd helped Radiant Cleaners prove the impact of their specific business model, gathering the data necessary so they can get more contracts, and further their growth.

Understanding social value

Radiant Cleaners’ social value can be viewed from two perspectives. Firstly, what are the savings to the government and the value added to the economy from moving people experiencing long term unemployment into a job? Secondly, what is the value created for the employee?

Economic contribution/value: The data has shown that Radiant Cleaners’ commitment to paying the living wage has had significant impact on their employees’ financial security. In 2018, Radiant Cleaners has worked with 20 people who otherwise would have struggled to enter regular employment. According to data from New Economy, this creates an annual social value estimate of £211,406 (£16,262 per person) for the UK through reduction in benefits and contribution from National Insurance over an annual employment period.

Value for the employee: Radiant Cleaners developed a ‘Living Life Index’ to help staff track well-being and think about their employment. Employees also showed a 29% increase in self-confidence and personal value. By investing in systems to understand what is helping their employees benefit, Radiant Cleaners ensures social impact is at the heart of everything they do.

Radiant Cleaners have established a business model which is supportive of employees, profitable and competitive in a thriving market. As the company grows, Radiant Cleaners has the ambition to take their supportive employment ethos to other cities and sectors: 

“Once we have established ourselves in the cleaning sector in Nottingham we want to replicate to other cities. We also want to branch out from cleaning…there are many other business sectors that should be more equitable…and no shortage of people struggling in poverty who face multiple barriers to work.”

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Author Info

Ruth Coustick-Deal

UnLtd award winners all have fascinating stories about their ventures and why they do what they do. My role is to ensure these stories are told and seen by the world. I want to make sure all the teams at UnLtd communicate their work effectively, and that they have the best tools to do so. I have a background in political campaigning, spending the last seven years trying to improve human rights in the UK. In my spare time I co-host and produce a podcast about technology and its impact on society, and enjoy drawing and making art

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