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Friday 28 July 2017

Graduate partners with local charity to get homeless people back into work

Graduate, Sam Kennedy, has partnered with a local charity to keep the city's streets clean, but there is more to this project than meets the eye. 

Sam, who has just completed his degree in business and human resources management, began his journey towards starting his own business during his second year. His ambitions were realised when the University's Enterprise Team helped him write a business plan, connected him with contacts and clients in the industry and helped him to secure funding.

Since its humble beginnings, Sam's company 'Klear Commercial Services Ltd' has gone from strength to strength. What began as a commercial cleaning service now provides a full facilities management solution that includes cleaning, IT solutions, pest control, graffiti removal, security and grounds maintenance.

Whilst studying at university and managing his own business, he wasn’t ready to stop there, and wanted to give back to the city. He teamed up with the local charity Cathedral Archer Project, which supports homeless and vulnerable people in the city. Together, they pitched a project to the Sheffield BID (Business Improvement District) which would clean up the streets in key areas of the city centre, helping to address complaints from local businesses to the Sheffield BID of the mess left behind by late night revellers and rough sleepers. Sheffield BID delivers projects that add value to businesses in the city, focusing on achieving higher visitor numbers, a vibrant city centre, a cleaner environment, and a powerful voice for the businesses that pay into the BID.

Through Sam's partnership with the Cathedral Archer Project, the clean-up project would involve former rough sleepers, under the Archer Project's 'Just Works' programme. Following a successful pitch, the Just Works programme and Klear Commercial Services formed the 'BID's Street Rangers' cleaning team. The BID's Street Rangers is a supported employment initiative, which means that people from the Just Works programme receive on-the-job training by co-delivering a professional cleaning service with staff from Sam's company.

Recruits to the team are given an opportunity to get back to work, earn the national living wage and receive additional training in areas such as conflict management, health and safety and customer service. The Just Works programme helps rehabilitate people who have come out of prison, who have been addicted to drugs and alcohol or who are living on the streets. The programme uses a holistic approach tailored to the individual and focuses on both personal and employability development; equipping individuals with skills to reintegrate into society, to become self-sustaining, working individuals.

The Street Rangers are on duty between 6am and 8am Monday to Thursday and 6am and 9am Friday to Sunday on a scheduled 7-day clean-up of known hot spots. The team works closely with the police to move rough sleepers on in the mornings. Any possessions left behind, such as sleeping bags, are taken to the Cathedral Archer Project, where they are cleaned, ready to be collected by the owner, who states where and when their items were collected. The team are also equipped to safely dispose of needles found on the street. The Street Rangers are keen to maintain an understanding relationship with vulnerable people in the city; as those in the team have experienced sleeping rough before, they are sensitive to the issues. The BID levy payers - who are the businesses that receive the cleaning service - have also expressed excellent feedback on the standards and attendance of the Street Rangers.

Sam said, "I think projects like this are very important: they work and have been shown to deliver results. For example, some people who have used the programme are now off of the streets and in their own flats; they have overcome addiction and started working again. It is tangible proof that these things work.

"Projects such as Just Works are also a way for commercial companies like us to give back; it means that commercial companies can integrate charitable activities within profit making endeavours. In that way, both private industry and charities can flourish".

The Street Rangers are making the city a cleaner, safer place to be, whilst giving individuals the opportunity to rehabilitate their lives, through gradual exposure to work. Sam has recently finished his final exams, and will be graduating this November and he looks set to shine in the business world.

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