Double Recognition for Pluss
Pluss, a part European Social Fund supported social firm creating opportunities for some of the most disadvantaged in the labour market, has recently received a Best Employer award at the Express and Echo Exeter Business Awards 2012, and one of its social enterprise businesses, Future Clean, has also received an award.
Pluss is owned by a group of local authorities in the South West of England and is supported through the ESF Innovation, Transnationality and Mainstreaming strand of funding.
One of their social enterprises is Future Clean, an innovative project providing work mainly for people with learning disabilities. Future Clean is principally a car valet service operating in local authority car parks which uses a lightweight and eco-friendly car cleaning system. All cleaning products are biodegradable and the simple, portable system can easily be carried with one hand, making it accessible for people with all types of complex disabilities.
The project is designed to get disabled people firstly into steady employment, work with them in teams, assist them to gain vocational qualifications and support them to then move onto more mainstream jobs in the community. In addition to creating opportunities for people with moderate to severe learning disabilities, complex mental health issues and multiple physical disabilities, Future Clean employs ex-servicemen with disabilities as job coaches to train and support these employees.
Since its beginning in April 2010 Future Clean has expanded across a number of sites and delivered around 40 paid jobs. In recognition of its achievements the company this year won the British Parking Award for Parking in the Community. The award recognises the ways in which people working in the parking sector are making a positive contribution to the wider community on a local, regional or national level.
This year, Future Clean will to recruit 12 six-month traineeships in Exeter and a further 12 in Plymouth.
In addition to this the project is actively talking to a further 15 organisations who are looking to adopt a Future Clean Project in areas as far afield as Northern Ireland, Scotland and France.
Rod Burnett, Micro Social Enterprise Development Manager at Pluss, states "When we started this project our aims were simple and clear. We wanted to deliver the maximum number of paid jobs for people with disabilities possible and develop the Future Clean Brand to be as recognisable to the public for supporting the disability employment agenda as The Big Issue is for supporting the Homeless. We seem to be heading in the right direction"
Dave Smith, 50, Job Coach. Prior to working with Pluss, Dave spent 25 years with the Royal Marines and has multiple disabilities.
“Basically my job is working with disabled adults, teaching them the trade. Its great, a hands-on job and it was a challenge to me as I was heavily involved in the set up, giving my ideas to make it work.
“Before this, I applied for lots of jobs. It can be hard because usually as soon as you mention disability employers just don’t want to know. This job has really picked me up out of the dump. It’s given me something to get up for in the mornings – even this morning with the wet weather! They are a great bunch of guys and girls. We keep everything light hearted and have a laugh. A happy atmosphere makes for a better workforce.”