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?
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.