Nor­wood hop­ing to clean up with car wash

The Jewish Chronicle - - Community - BY JEN­NIFER LIP­MAN

THE CAR wash­ing ser­vice just off the high street in Hatch End would not strike passers-by as any­thing out of the or­di­nary.

Staff are friendly and help­ful, prices are com­pet­i­tive and ve­hi­cles emerge shiny and spot­less.

What sets this one apart is that it is run by Nor­wood ser­vice users, in what is thought to be the first Lon­don com­mer­cial car wash manned by peo­ple with learn­ing dis­abil­i­ties.

Backed by Har­row Coun­cil, the Nor­wood Fu­ture Clean car wash and valet ser­vice is the lat­est stage in the char­ity’s sup­ported em­ploy­ment pro­gramme.

Em­ploy­ees are ei­ther from res­i­den­tial homes or Nor­wood’s sup­ported em­ploy­ment scheme.

They are in charge of ev­ery­thing from clean­ing to cus­tomer ser­vice and en­sur­ing sup­plies do not run out. They have re­ceived train­ing in wash­ing meth­ods, health and safety is­sues and han­dling money.

“We want to make it as user-run as pos­si­ble,” ex­plained pro­ject de­velop- ment man­ager Linda Looney. “If it can be to­tally user-run, that would be great.”

So far 12 peo­ple have been trained for the pro­ject, which is mod­elled on a sim­i­lar scheme run by Ex­eter-based char­ity Pluss, but the in­ten­tion is to in­crease num­bers where pos­si­ble. The ultimate aim is for ser­vice users to earn their own liv­ing.

The ven­ture is be­ing run on ecofriendly lines, us­ing biodegrad­able clean­ing ma­te­ri­als.

It is the sec­ond of Nor­wood’s so­cial en­ter­prises — the first, launched in Jan- uary, is a jew­ellery-mak­ing work­shop and on­line store.

Busi­ness is boom­ing. In June, 70 pieces were sold in a day at a one-off stall at the Harlequin shop­ping cen­tre in Wat­ford. But as Nor­wood chief ex­ec­u­tive Norma Brier pointed out: “There should be some­thing for ev­ery­body.”

The car ser­vice was “ab­so­lutely what we are about. It just goes to show that the train­ing has re­ally paid off and now they are a pro­fes­sional team.”

In the four weeks since the car wash opened, more than 30 cus­tomers have had ve­hi­cles cleaned, some with a full in­side and out valet. Busi­ness is cur­rently lim­ited to Wed­nes­days and Thurs­days. The hope is to ex­pand it to other days, find sites in other bor­oughs and to run a mo­bile valet ser­vice to travel to golf clubs or peo­ple’s homes.

“I’d cleaned my mum’s car be­fore but now I’m learn­ing new things like talk­ing to cus­tomers,” said Jamie Mars­land. “It’s get­ting my con­fi­dence up.”

Ben Sil­ver, who was tasked with clean­ing the Mayor of Har­row’s Mercedes, said he was en­joy­ing the job. And as an Arse­nal sup­porter, he pre­ferred wash­ing red cars.

Car wash staff with Norma Brier and Har­row coun­cil­lor Keith Ferry

Mak­ing the most of a win­dow of op­por­tu­nity

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from UK

© PressReader. All rights reserved.