The Strategy Day is an opportunity to: Explore what Q&B does now. Help shape its future with plans on how it can best support both its members and further abroad.
Quakers and Business Group promotes Quaker values and principles in
business and the workplace. It provides a supportive network for those
upholding these principles, researches into ethical business practices
and runs events.
learn more about the work Q&B are currently supporting
Clean for Good is a cleaning firm with a difference.
I was delighted to attend the preview evening for this exhibition at St Sepulchre’s Church, Holborn Viaduct, London, EC1A 2DQ. It opens formally on Monday and will be open Monday – Thursday 11am – 2pm until the end of August 2019.
This is a selection of specially commissioned black and white portraits of some of Clean for Good’s cleaners and account mangers. There are eleven portraits so about a quarter of their current workforce.
There was laughter as the various staff members admired the photos and read each other’s bios – commenting on things they were learning about each other.
Cleaning choices are some of the ways you can live our your values as an ethical consumer. I talked about this back in the Quaker A-Z: C is for Choices.
Clean for Good strives to be London’s best cleaning company – and was recently recognised as a NatWest Top 100 Social Business 2019. Not bad for its second year in business!
The cleaners are employed direct – with full employment benefits, including pension, holiday and sick leave. As a customer, I like that Clean for Good are responsive and able to find alternative cleaners where necessary. Including recruiting in an area where they didn’t currently have a cleaner.
So, if you are looking for a cleaner, and want to be certain that are treated well by their employers including being paid the London Living Wage, then have a look:
I’m often asked by clients, where do I get my information about rates and other virtual assistants? One of the biggest answers is from here: The Society of Virtual Assistants (SVA) 9th annual survey. To read about how I define VA, read the home page, and if you are wondering how it all works – I have a page for that too!
To make it statistically valid, they needed at least 10% of the industry surveyed – which they calculated as 2,333 VAs working in the UK. However, it can be hard to calculate the total number of VAs in the UK. So many are classified as separate industries such as secretary, bookkeeper, marketing consultant – or even charity management consultants such as myself!
To quote the SVA’s blurb:
SVA’s annual survey designed to take a snapshot of the UK VA industry answering business critical questions like: How much can I charge? What will I earn as a VA? What are the most effective marketing strategies? What services are most popular? Which training programmes deliver the best value for money?
So, if you have ever wondered about using a VA, or what a VA could help you with – have a look at the survey, or at the SVA website. It was good to see that I’m not alone in having worked as a VA for over five years, and have no plans to stop any time soon.
Photo taken by Dana Rancette, used with permission
Fire is a serious risk. However, even if the equipment can be tempting to small people, I don’t recommend telling them taping the control panel shut, or posting signs telling people not to touch the fire alarm.
I suspect those intent on fiddling will ignore the sign. While you definitely don’t want to confuse someone in an emergency situation where they *should* sound the alarm.
Instead have regular fire alarm drills. Give training to your volunteers or employees. Suggest training for anyone else who use your building. You might be able to combine groups and provide training to everyone.
These combined with clear signage, plus the use of appropriate equipment coverings to prevent accidental usage or damage will mean fewer false alarms and give everyone involved more confidence that they know what they are doing if an emergency occurs.
I’m delighted to be speaking on Outsourcing, at the HeartsEdge Churches & Commerce conference.
It looks like an interesting day, Jonathan Evens explained, ‘The reason for organising this event is that many churches struggle to cover the costs of their buildings and the ministry needed in their area. Finding other sources of income in addition to congregational giving can help significantly and can also extend the church’s engagement in God’s mission. This event enables participants to hear from people for whom commercial activities, including social enterprises, are making a real difference, not only to their church finances but also to their wider mission. We hope that ‘Churches & Commerce’ will be a day for anyone interested in making churches sustainable in their mission.’
If you’re interested – contact Jonathan at the information above. Hope to see some of you there!
Lancaster University are running a free on line course exploring how/why Quakers formed and grew into the radical group they are today.
” Together, we will explore the beginnings of Quakerism and this critical piece of religious history of a group who gathered around a radical and outspoken spiritual message that was to change the face of 1650s England, and has since remained a distinctive part of the religious landscape.”
There was a time when the only reference books found in a meeting house were similar to those seen at the Clerks’ table at Yearly Meeting. Over the years, as many Area Meetings have registered as charities, this has changed and now legal advice is as necessary as spiritual. While pensions are mentioned in the bible, it doesn’t qualify as helpful advice.
At the Managing Meeting Houses course last month there were several anxious questions about pensions.
Do they apply to all employees?
Do we have to set one up for our volunteer wardens?
What about ‘flexible’ employees with limited contracts – often known as zero-hour contracts?
Obviously, I’d recommend seeking professional advice if you have any concerns. The guidance given here is a summary of what I’ve found useful, and supplied to my clients on request.
Yes – every employer with at least one eligible member of staff must enrol them onto a workplace pension scheme, and then contribute towards it.
Volunteer wardens aren’t employees and so don’t qualify for auto enrolment. You aren’t able (as a meeting) to contribute into a pension for them as this is seen as payment in kind. That creates problems for their employment status. From the very helpful gov.uk website: Workers employed and paid by the charity for the work they do are eligible for pensions if they:
earn more than the current minimum wage
are aged between 22 and the state pension age
work in the UK
‘Workers’ include contractors and agency staff, as well as people working under an apprenticeship. Volunteers and unpaid staff are not eligible.
Contractors who are on zero hour contracts and work in other places may not qualify for pensions. You may need to take legal advice regarding the contracts you use and your employment and recruitment policies.
The Charity Finance Group (CFG) has produced a useful guide to pensions – downloadable from that link. The publication hopes to provide some guidance for the 22,000+ charities, each with less than 25 members of staff, who are due to be auto-enrolling their staff between 1st January 2016 and 1st April 2017.
The guide is easy to read with advice on how to prepare, implement, and build the necessary processes. It urges you to plan early and budget for additional costs created by auto-enrolment.
Many meeting houses have lead on their roofs or windows – even those who have a tiled or thatch roof may have flashing as can be seen on the porch above. Sadly this has become a target for thieves as the price of lead has continued to grow and the demand is likely to continue.
Most meeting houses can not afford to install complex security systems. However there some straightforward ways to protect your building and your lead from both theft and any damage done not only during the thieving, but after if the loss isn’t spotted immediately – giving time for water and other things to gain entry to the building.
Contact your local crime prevention team and ensure they are aware of the building and the value of any metals on the site. Check whether or not the area is a metal theft hotspot.
Keep gates locked and restrict vehicle access. Consider installing telescopic bollards, or similar devices. Remove any easy means of transporting stolen metal, such as wheelbarrows and wheelie bins, to a secure storage area.
Consider installing lighting. Any lights fitted should be weather proof, inaccessible and/or vandal resistant. However avoid lighting areas that are secluded as this might make it easier for thieves to operate. See below for more information
Consider installing LeadLok or similar fixings to prevent easy removal of the lead.
Encourage neighbours to keep an eye on the building and to report any suspicious activity to the police (particularly the unexpected arrival of workmen).
Maximise surveillance levels, for example by cutting back tall and overhanging trees.
Removing any means of access for thieves to roofs, such as water butts, waste bins and tall trees located in close proximity to the building and ensure ladders are stored in a secure place.
Consider planting beds of dense prickly bushes or trees, for example to reinforce existing boundaries. Use wide, low beds where it is important to retain good views. There is a list of plants available from the Crime Prevention website. Many of these can be attractive to humans and wildlife as well as a deterrent.
Conduct regular checks of roofs so that lead theft plus any damage, is detected at the earliest opportunity rather than when rainwater enters the building causing further losses.
Apply anti-climb paint to drain pipes and roof guttering to restrict access to roofing. The paint should not be applied below a height of 2m, and warning notices should be displayed.
Apply a traceable liquid such as SmartWater which can be painted onto the lead. This leaves a signature behind which can be read by reputable metal merchants using a UV light. Installation can be done during roof work or in some cases by anyone with a long ladder such as window cleaners. You need to register your bottle to ensure the signature can be connected to you.
L is for Lighting
Lighting is an essential part of modern buildings. Following on from lead I wanted to give some additional details about outside lighting.
Outside lights can be installed for a variety of reasons:
Aesthetics to make the building look attractive and welcoming; to highlight a specific feature; to encourage people to come out into the garden or onto a patio.
Practicality and safety especially around doorways, stairs and changes of height in pathways.
Security in addition to the doorways mentioned above, this might include triggered lights near pathways or places of access.
Each of these requirements should be considered when you are creating a lighting design for an area – you may decide that security lighting still needs to be attractive as it is in a very visible area for example.
PIR (passive infrared) detectors are popular and relatively cheap to source and install. They can also have badly defined areas and be set off by animals and weather as well as people. More expensive set ups can collate information from the range of sensors to decide if the trigger is a false positive or should be acted on.
Larger buildings may need a more complicated system or for the lighting to be integrated into other security systems.
However you decide to light your building do consider the environmental aspects too – use timers to reduce the amount of electricity used, LED light bulbs where at all possible, be considerate to neighbours and passer-bys with angles, brightness and length of time the lights are on.
To browse through all of the posts click on the Quaker A-Z link here or in the side bar.