All posts by Alistair Moses

Something for everyone on the menu

We’re in the midst of the London restaurant festival – a month celebrating the diversity and quality of eateries and food on offer in our great capital, with 350 restaurants across the city taking part.

Overall, apparently there are around 17,000 restaurants in London and in many ways, they sum up the nature of the city better than any other feature. The range in budgets, cultures, locations, attitudes and appearances is truly mind boggling – a real cosmopolitan melting pot.

Whether you head to the East End for pie and mash, Little Italy for pasta, Chinatown for dim sum or the burrito van on the South Bank, there truly is something for everyone.

The restaurants really are part of what makes London great, and I haven’t even started on the buildings they are in. Some of the high level restaurants, such as the Aqua Shard or Duck & Waffle in the Heron Tower near Liverpool Street, provide views seen by very few Londoners (except those who work in high level cleaning or high level maintenance like us!).

However, in common with the cleaning industry, the hospitality industry as a whole is not known for the longevity of its staff, or its generous wage levels. We’ve seen numerous examples in our industry of the benefits that come with paying the Living Wage, including – but not limited to – happier, more motivated staff, easier recruitment, better retention levels, and happier customers.

The end of the restaurant festival coincides with this year’s Living Wage Week (30 October to 5 November). Wouldn’t it be great if the overlap was more than just on the calendar and we saw an increase in the number of restaurants signing up to pay the fair wage?

Blog post: Take some advice from an expert

by Sean Canty, Director, CAM Specialist Support

Whatever views you held during the ‘Brexit’ referendum, perhaps the most surprising aspect was people’s willingness to heed the advice ‘not to listen to experts’. It’s a phenomena apparently equally at home in Donald Trump’s quest for the presidency of the United States.

It’s a pretty frightening turn of events. Taken in the context of whether or not to leave the European Union the advice sounds a little on the implausible side, but in other contexts it is downright dangerous. Experts, whatever their field, become so through years of studying and experience, and what they think shouldn’t be taken lightly.

The internet has done many wonderful things, information can now be shared widely and we no longer have to rely on monopoly media outlets for our news. However, the old adage ‘don’t believe everything you read’ remains as true as ever when you don’t know who is publishing it or why. We continue to need reliable, independent experts across a variety of subjects who can help us ‘sort the wheat from the chaff’.

In our industry for instance not everyone understands what working at height encompasses and they often don’t appreciate the risks of even a seemingly mundane task. Anything that means taking a step off the ground, or where there’s a danger of falling, is a work at height task and should only be undertaken by a competent person with the right equipment.

We are experts at cleaning at height and conducting maintenance at height and provide FM services in London and the surrounding areas – we have industry-recognised training, years of experience and a variety of specialist equipment to take on any task whether just above head height or multiple stories up in inaccessible locations.

We conduct individual risk assessments for every job and don’t just rely on generic forms. Anything less would be dangerous for our operatives and the general public, which isn’t a risk worth taking.

So please, whatever your political persuasion, don’t forget they’re called experts for a reason, and you ignore them at your peril!

Working at height specialism lands CAM an Olympic-sized challenge

CAM Specialist Support’s expertise in high level cleaning has secured it a contract to clean the Here East building in The Queen Elizabeth Park, Stratford, London.

Previously part of the London Olympics site, the building was used as the media centre during the 2012 games. Current tenants include BT Sports studios, Loughborough University and a number of new start up and retail clients.

CAM conducts bespoke risk assessments for every job it carries out and selects the most appropriate work at height method, or methods, from its armoury. This includes rope access, mobile elevated work platforms and water-fed pole systems.

Sean Canty, Director at CAM Specialist Support, said: “I’m delighted to have won the contract for this showcase building. The client told us we were specifically selected due to our reputation for delivering quality service and our understanding of the specific and unique requirements of delivering a clean building when working at height.”

CAM works on a wide variety of buildings across London and the South East, and specialises in cleaning and commercial building maintenance tasks in those hard to access places that others just can’t reach.

Blog post: Mixing the old and the new

The mix of the traditional and the modern is one of the things that makes London such a great place to live, work and visit. Walk down an unfamiliar street and you just don’t know what will be waiting around the corner; will it be an ancient church or a vibrant new office block? And will it be the same next time you go around? The City of London Corporation reports that over 50% of buildings have been redeveloped since 1997.

When you work in commercial building maintenance, including high level cleaning, like we do, you really get to experience the rich tapestry that makes up London. One site we work on is just by St. Paul’s Cathedral. So we’ll be at the top of a modern, largely glass, office block and can see not only the Cathedral, but the Millennium footbridge and Tate Modern, as well as the Tower of London and a host of City offices like the ‘Cheesegrater’ and ‘Walkie Talkie’ beyond.

This melting pot is captured brilliantly by the City of London’s livery companies. They bring together the very traditional – think gowns and ceremonial halls – with modern business to give people the opportunity network with professionals from across their industry and to get involved in socially responsible initiatives, such as supporting education.

There are 110 such livery companies. Here at CAM, a number of us are Freemen or Liverymen of the Worshipful Company of Environmental Cleaners. In fact, my colleague Matt and I recently organised an event for potential new members so that they could find out more about what being a member of the Worshipful Company really means. In summary, members can network and socialise with over 200 people at work in the cleaning industry whilst also engaging in charitable and community activities.

At CAM, we’re passionate about the cleaning industry, and about attracting bright, ambitious people to join it. We believe the Worshipful Company is highly relevant, combining the traditions and mystique of The City with the changing needs of a major 21st Century Industry. It exists “to encourage and foster the craft of Environmental Cleaning and kindred occupations by means of professional and social intercourse and the mutual exchange of information between those concerned with the craft and those occupations.”

We think that, like London itself, the livery company’s mix of old and new is the recipe for success.

Blog post: Stick or twist

by Sean Canty, Director, CAM Specialist Support

With the EU referendum date finally approaching and facts scarce to non-existent, a decision on whether to vote in or out basically comes down to how keen you are to gamble.

Do you stick with what we know or twist and see what the future can bring us? I’d love to supply you with hard-hitting facts that mean you know what’s best, but as the politicians and experts can’t, I’m afraid that’s just not going to happen. Anyone from either side who is claiming to know the future should either be using their powers for a greater purpose (world peace? winning lottery numbers?) or is wrong.

What I can do is say is that we work with a number of prestigious property managing agents and many have expressed concerns about international clients abandoning London in the event of a vote to leave the EU. London’s place in the financial system will surely be put at risk if Brexit is the chosen path. Why would banks and other multinationals want to be based here if we’re outside the EU?

We know that London is one of the financial capitals of the world and the sleek offices and commercial buildings from Battersea to Canary Wharf are testament to that. As with any industry, there are many subsidiary businesses reliant on their success. In this case the companies that sell suits or sandwiches are just the start.

For our company, a successful financial sector means there are plenty of opportunities to provide commercial building maintenance and high level cleaning services. Those shiny architectural monuments to commercial accomplishment don’t clean themselves you know!

Migration is obviously a contentious issue, with both sides making claim and counter-claim. The cleaning industry is heavily reliant on migrant workers and if there were to be a reduction in the people available to work in the sector, the impact on our city, and indeed our country, could be huge.

We have long sought to make the cleaning industry more attractive to quality applicants, to show it as the place of entrepreneurship and opportunity that it is. Without a sufficient pool of workers to recruit from, standards on cleaning are likely to drop, with a negative impact on our living and working conditions.

Maybe, by opting to stick, we’ll be missing out on a glorious future, but I can’t help thinking that in this case sticking with what we know could be the trump card!

Blog post: A wider view of London

by Sean Canty, Director, CAM Specialist Support

As working at height specialists, we are part of a select group in terms of our overview of London, something that makes me feel a common bond with the incoming Mayor of London.
Perhaps an even stronger link though is our support for fair treatment of London’s workers and in particular paying the Living Wage. I was therefore delighted when the front runners for the campaign, Sadiq Khan and Zac Goldsmith, both committed their support to the London Living Wage at the biggest event of the Mayoral Campaign last week.
Whatever your political persuasion, it’s good to know that either of the men expected to replace Boris Johnson as Mayor are going to promote the Living Wage Foundation’s wage level so that people can actually afford to live in the capital. With the cost of living so high in London this a vital step in ensuring we can attract and retain quality workers and boost our economy – something else that we are committed to.
Quite how this support for the Living Wage will manifest itself is yet to be seen, but both candidates back the recommendation to make more GLA suppliers pay the London Living Wage, which would be a great start.
It would also be good to see other measures to support responsible companies, such as Lewisham Council’s business rate discount for businesses that commit to the Living Wage, spread more widely.
Whoever wins, I wish them the best of luck and hope that by the end of their term they can look proudly at a great city that pays all its workers fairly and ensures a better quality of life for all.

New training range from CAM Training Ltd

CAM Training Ltd – a division of working at height experts CAM Specialist Support – has launched its 2016/17  Training Catalogue  for people involved in building cleaning and maintenance.

The cleaning industry is all too often viewed as being low skilled, due to a lack of understanding about the training that truly professional cleaners undertake. Training is essential to ensure safe working practices and should include health and safety for personal and public protection, all trade relevant regulations and customer service training.

Tim Jones, Professional Development Director at CAM, explained: “Our safety courses are primarily designed to encourage the appropriate behaviour that underscores a robust safe system of work. Through our expertise and experience, we encourage individuals to make health and safety central to their work so that they can challenge the perception of their industry from within. It is our aim, at CAM Training, to help individuals gain qualifications that, not only formalises competence, but also develops a personal confidence in their own health and safety professionalism.”

Courses offered by CAM Training Ltd include:

  • IOSH working safely and managing safely
  • Chartered Institute of Environmental Health
  • Federation of Window Cleaners (FWC) IOSH accredited Cleaning Windows Safely using Water fed poles and Ladder
  • Federation of Window Cleaners (FWC) IOSH Risk assessment and method statements for cleaning windows
  • CAM also offers bespoke, industry specialised, training to suit its clients’ specific needs

Blog post: A marathon not a sprint – changing perceptions of the cleaning industry

by Sean Canty, Director, CAM Specialist Support

April is London Marathon month, an event that I know not all Londoners welcome, especially those living or working on the route and facing major disruption. However, I see the Marathon as a great celebration of everything that is wonderful about our city.

It’s a colourful, multicultural event open to everyone, from the world’s elite athletes to well, frankly, eccentric oddballs! How else would you describe the guys dressed in a diving suit, Dr Who’s Tardis or a bottle of London Pride? And, of course, the Marathon raises millions for a wide variety of good causes; more than £770 million since the first race in 1981.

It’s also a great showcase for our Capital with the route taking in buildings displaying London’s heritage and modernity in equal measure – including a number that CAM is responsible for cleaning and maintaining. Thousands line the route and millions watch around the world to see the sights and sounds. Good luck to everyone taking part, whether running competitively or walking in a silly costume. I hope you achieve your goal.

A clean sweep

Although I’m not attempting this gruelling test, I am involved in a major challenge and that is to alter people’s perceptions of the cleaning industry. Something that will definitely be more of a marathon than a sprint!

The action of sweeping and mopping is widely perceived as low skilled. However, this is because there’s a lack of understanding about the training that a professional cleaner undertakes. This necessarily includes health and safety for personal and public protection, COSHH regulations and customer service training – all required before individuals can develop their skills and make career progress in the industry.

Just because people mop and sweep at home doesn’t mean they are ready to do so in a public environment. The myth that cleaning is low-skilled is exemplified by public comments such as those by Sir Michael Wilshaw in his criticisms of apprenticeships being awarded for “low-level” skills like making coffee and mopping floors.

Like many jobs, cleaners start at the base level. How is this any different to a young man or woman joining a manufacturing business, learning the basics needed to get a foundation in the industry and then looking to build a career? The answer is that it’s not, yet those working in the different industries are looked upon very differently and it’s time that changed.

I’ve written to the CSSA to call on them to challenge this perception of the cleaning industry and hope many more of you will join the cause. The finish line may be a long way off, but it would be a major achievement to reach it!

This blog post was first published on the Cleaning Matters website.

Job vacancy: Handyman

Job Description

We are looking for a full-time handyman to join our team.

Based in Forest Hill, London, you will report directly to your Supervisor and will be expected to work in London and the Home Counties.

You’ll have good communication skills, including basic IT abilities, be hard working and have a positive ‘can-do’ attitude. A real team player, you’ll be trustworthy, reliable and be able to manage your time effectively.

You should have at least two years’ experience and preferably a clean driving licence.

Role and responsibilities

  • Maintain our clients’ buildings in a safe, clean and secure condition
  • Liaise regularly with the maintenance administrator and perform daily and weekly checks as prescribed by the job schedule software
  • Carry out basic carpentry, decorating, tiling, flooring or roofing works on a reactive and planned maintenance schedule to ensure our clients buildings are kept in a clean, clear and safe condition
  • Schedule complete regular maintenance, servicing and repair of plant and equipment
  • Repair and maintain general plumbing in our client’s buildings; this includes mains water, heating and drainage systems
  • Order equipment and parts through the maintenance administrator using purchase orders for goods and services necessary for the continued operations as approved by the client. Invoices are required to permit completion of financial reports
  • Work with the administrator to ensure spending is within budget
  • Report details of completed tasks and any further works required to the maintenance administrator
  • Work in conjunction with sub-contracted service staff
  • Provide training for clients and on site staff for safe use of the equipment installed or provided by CAM
  • Complete all work sheets and provide copy back to maintenance administrator so that tasks can be shut down, invoiced and reported on by the helpdesk.

In return, we offer:

  • Company van
  • Uniform
  • Tools and Training

We are a London Living Wage Employer.

Applications should be emailed to Juliet by 5pm on Thursday 12 May.