A Bristol-based cleaning service set-up and run by people with learning disabilities, celebrated its 20th anniversary at a special event recently.
A Clean Sweep is the longest running co-operative of its kind and is supported by Mencap’s employment service, which supports the individuals to fulfil their contractual commitments to the customers and expand its client base.
The event, held in Bristol’s Vassall Centre on January 9, played host to many of the co-operative’s local supporters, clients and the Mayor of Bristol, George Ferguson. The event kicked off with speeches from A Clean Sweep employees, before the Mayor delivered a congratulatory speech, which was followed by a champagne toast and lunch.
A Clean Sweep was the first co-operative of its type to be run only by people with a learning disability when it was set up in 1995. Over the past 20 years, the co-operative has steadily grown, taking on more local cleaning contracts and, as a result, more staff with learning disabilities.
Debbie, who has a learning disability and lives in Bristol, has been with A Clean Sweep since its early days in 1995. In that time she has progressed from being a cleaner to being one of the co-operative’s directors and it has changed her life.
"Before A Clean Sweep, I was in the day centre every day,” she said. “I kept getting told that I would never get a job and I would not be able to keep it either if I got one because of my learning disability. But I am still here after 20 years! I have completed an NVQ in office work and I run the company meetings every Friday. I am really proud."
Sukhjinder Sandhu, business development co-ordinator for A Clean Sweep on behalf of Mencap, added: “In the five years that I have been [here] the company has grown and is successful and profitable. We compete in the workplace with main stream companies and are winning contracts in open tendering processes.
“We believe the way A Clean Sweep was set-up and is run could easily be copied by other groups of people with a learning disability who want to have control of their own working lives.
“The 20th anniversary event was a wonderful day, where everybody involved with A Clean Sweep got to celebrate what the co-operative has achieved. I am very hopeful that A Clean Sweep will continue from strength to strength for another 20 years to come!”