Business Charity Awards: Employment scheme - Winner: Lancaster Cleaning and Support Services and Tomorrow's People

Awarded to the company that has aided a charity or charities by offering employment, training, work experience or similar support to beneficiaries

Lancaster Cleaning and Support Services
Lancaster Cleaning and Support Services

Barclays and Business Action on Homelessness
Morgan Hunt and Dame Kelly Holmes Trust

Lancaster Cleaning and Support Services and Tomorrow's People

Depression, an alcohol or drug addiction and a lack of confidence are among many barriers that prevent people from working. Since August 2009, Lancaster Cleaning and Support Services has been working with the national employment charity Tomorrow's People to help get such people back into work.

The family-run cleaning firm, founded in 1976, employs more than 4,000 staff and has contracts with a range of large organisations, including Rolls-Royce, the Ministry of Justice and Deutsche Bank.

For a number of years it had been planning to set up a mutually beneficial partnership with an organisation to provide long-term employment opportunities in east London, when a recruitment consultancy put it in touch with Tomorrow's People.

Lancaster Cleaning chose the charity partly because it aims to break the cycle of unemployment and support "those who feel they have insurmountable barriers preventing them from finding work".

Lancaster Cleaning and Support Services The charity helps people who find it hard to get work and have been overlooked by other employers. They include vulnerable young people, lone parents, ex-offenders and people with long-term health problems.

In the partnership, Lancaster Cleaning has trained more than 400 long-term unemployed Tomorrow's People clients in basic cleaning skills, which are accredited by the British Institute of Cleaning Science. Of these, 154 people have been placed in permanent employment. Eighty-five per cent of them stayed on after 13 weeks and about two-thirds are still in work after a year.

Lancaster Cleaning gave permanent contracts to 60 people. Tony French, a young father from east London, signed up with Tomorrow's People in December 2009 after years of unemployment. Thanks to the partnership, he gained his BICS qualifications through training with Lancaster Cleaning and has been working for the company since last February. Tony is now keen to progress up the career ladder.

"Tomorrow's People helps you find a job, but if that doesn't work out you also have a qualification that will help you avoid going back into unemployment for a very long time," he said.

Matthew Sparkes, global community investment manager at Linklaters and a judge in this category, described the partnership as "an exemplar to others".

He said: "Lancaster Cleaning's partnership with Tomorrow's People has already seen more than 400 people gain a qualification and 154 secure employment.

"This is intelligent collaboration with clear business benefits for both parties. It stands as a benchmark and challenge to others in the sector."

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