It has been a busy six weeks since this lockdown was announced and there is no doubt that it is even tougher this time. London has been hit particularly badly by this wave of the virus and the health of our staff has been a key priority. Some have had to shield, and others have been furloughed. As Managing Director of Juniper Ventures? it has been important to me that we make sure we top up those wages to 100% as it is vital our team do not feel any additional hardship. Our primary school catering staff are on a rota to protect them as much as possible and when they are working at home, they are asked to complete online training. Thousands of online courses are being completed by staff to upskill and increase their knowledge which is fantastic for their future development and for us too in having such a skilled workforce.
With the vaccine rollout well underway, we are actively promoting the programme via our regular newsletter, The Word, and encouraging all staff to book their slot as soon as they are notified. Communication with staff from right across the business has been extremely important during all three lockdowns and we want to be ready for when life returns to normal.
Supporting schools and home learning
We cannot wait to have children back in schools, enjoying school lunches and seeing full classrooms once again. In each lockdown, we have offered food parcels to those who need them. Each parcel contains £15 worth of food and there has been no profit made on them. The key benefit of the parcels is that we know the children have access to healthy food choices. We focus has been on changing the ingredients to reflect seasonality and supporting parents when required with recipe ideas and our website includes downloadable recipes for those who are home schooling can freely access. We understand the challenges parents are facing and want to be able to support in any way we can. For those key worker children attending schools we have been working hard to make sure lunchtimes are still fun. This includes theme days, where they can learn about food from around the world. Menus have also been tweaked slightly to manage the changing demand for each individual school. For example, some are still doing meals in the dining hall whilst others are using classrooms. We work with every single school individually to ensure that the service meets their needs and adapt dishes accordingly.
A busy time for the cleaning teams
Our cleaning service has never been so busy or more important. We have picked up a lot more cleaning work in London and this includes nine vaccination centres in Newham. It feels significant to play such a key role in this community rollout. We have also done some training for those working in the centres on basic hygiene and sanitisation procedures.
As a company we have made the move to alcohol-based products following COVID19 guidance. We have also increased the level s of cleaning for many of our client. Some schools have asked for additional cleaners throughout the day so they can focus on key high contact points, such as handles and toilets. It has been rewarding to support schools in this way and help to reduce the spread of the virus.
During the pandemic we have carried out a lot of additional research and training and now offer an antimicrobial electrostatic spraying/coating service. We have also accredited ourselves with Safer Space so that all our operators are trained and qualified. If we go into a school or business, we can give additional reassurance by displaying a Safer Space sign. It has been great to see us getting regular new enquiries and bookings based on our extended and improved cleaning services.
What else has been going on?
We have had to introduce a number of additional measures due to COVID19. This includes updating health and safety risk assessments and using Perspex screens at counters to protect our customers and staff. We have also been using our new cleaning equipment to spray the vehicles of Newham Council where vans are used by different people, such as in the debt recovery department. For those looking for a new cleaning company, we have an open and transparent way of working and are about partnerships not profits. Feedback we get from clients shows they can rely on us just to get on with the work.
An exciting new service for Juniper
Despite the on-going worry of the pandemic, 2021 has had a positive start with us welcoming Stuart McGregor, our new Head of Health and Safety to the business. He is highly qualified and has got straight into business looking at all our policies and procedures in detail. We are offering health and safety advice and support as an additional service for clients from April And already have arranged to start providing such services to over 30 schools from April 2021.
Looking ahead and reflecting
When looking back at this pandemic, I think we can feel extremely proud of how we have looked after our staff. No jobs have been lost and everyone has received their full salaries. We have also given extra support to staff who are shielding and where possible we have supported colleagues to work from home if they are able. Personally, I have really missed that employee contact and face to face relationship with both staff and customers, so I am looking forward to getting back into work as soon as it is safe to do so. However, I know how fortunate I am to be able to work from home, overlooking the countryside, with my gorgeous dog as my new work companion. You cannot beat that human contact though and I think we will all appreciate it more than ever in the future.