Latest News | 24 July 2023

Giving our refugee community a chance to shine

Upbeat Communities
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In the latest edition of Marketing Derby’s Innovate Magazine, we meet Michael Gladwell and his team at Upbeat Clean – a company which combines cleaning services with life-changing employment.

Founded by Upbeat Communities, the social enterprise enables Derby’s refugee community to access training and rebuild their lives through real living wage employment.

It supports refugees from all over the world who come to Derby – including, particularly in the past year or so, those who have come from war-torn Ukraine.

Discussing the reasons why it was established, Michael, who is head of enterprise at Upbeat Clean, told Innovate: “We were profoundly aware that there was a real challenge for refugee mums, in particular, in finding a first job in Derby.

“Some have minimal English, childcare challenges and trauma. If you have those three issues on top of each other, your chances of finding that first job are very low and that can lead to mental health challenges because you don’t have a healthy rhythm in your life and you’re not financially  independent and, so, then it becomes a spiralling situation which can often lead to years of unemployment.

“These women have fled from really horrific situations, with kids, often, or they have had kids on the way, and they are looking to rebuild their lives, to support their families and, yet, they were not able to secure employment.

“We looked at 40 different social enterprises and, in terms of impact and scalability, commercial cleaning was the obvious choice in attempting to address this challenge locally, to produce 40 to 50 jobs for refugee mums in the next five years, so we can literally remove this issue in Derby and then, potentially, in other cities too.”

Upbeat Clean offers commercial cleaning services to organisations in the city centre and areas such as Pride Park, with a quality of service that other cleaning companies struggle to match, according to Michael.

More than 25 offices and venues are already on Upbeat Clean’s books – with more being added all the time.

And earlier this year, the cleaning start-up was named as Marketing Derby’s Rising Star for 2023.

Michael told Innovate: “It’s the women we work with and the businesses who partner with us who are the heroes here.

“It’s all about the women, who have shown such resilience and bravery through traumatic events and are now being empowered and gaining confidence, and our partners, who are living out their values to help transform lives.”

To read the full feature on Upbeat Clean visit .

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