Social enterprise-run valet service comes to Leeds car park

An environmentally friendly valet service offered by a social enterprise supporting disadvantaged people is the latest addition to Leeds’ Woodhouse Lane car park.

From today (Monday 29 July) people using the car park can benefit from a range of car cleaning services from Pluss’ Future Clean project.

Using an eco-friendly and portable commercial car valeting system, Future Clean will support people with disabilities and other disadvantages by offering them practical training and work experience at the council-run car park to develop their employment opportunities.

By introducing Future Clean in this first location at Woodhouse Lane, and by working with Leeds City Council to provide funded traineeships, Pluss aims to support 24 people in its first year in Leeds.

By supporting people with mental health issues, learning or physical disabilities, it’s hoped that local Leeds residents will go onto employment through the government’s Work Choice programme.

Councillor Lucinda Yeadon, executive member for leisure and skills, said:

“We’re delighted to welcome Pluss and Future Clean to Leeds. The premise is simple but effective in giving people key skills that will help them secure and sustain longer term employment.

“We need to be an enabling force, removing barriers to employment. Working with Future Clean allows us to do just that and give people the confidence they need.”

Councillor Mark Dobson, executive member for the environment, said:

“Although this is another benefit we can offer our Woodhouse Lane customers, the true value of this project is supporting disabled or disadvantaged people into employment.

“I know the Future Clean team are raring to go and are looking forward to welcoming their first customers.”

Originally launched in 2010 in one car park in Plymouth, Future Clean has gone on to win national and European awards. The project is currently operational in 15 sites across the UK. It is supported by the European Social Fund support via Jobcentre Plus (DWP).

Alongside the practical experience in car valeting, a variety of courses are offered including PTLLS (Preparing to Teach in the Lifelong Learning Sector), fork lift training, first aid, health and safety, and safe lifting. So far, clients at other locations have gone on to full time education or found employment, including a laptop engineer, a school janitor and work in retail and the care industry.

Alistair Hannah-Briggs, Pluss cluster manager, said:

“This is a fantastic opportunity for our local people with disabilities to gain vital work experiences. It creates a supportive environment for our job-seekers to build their on their current skills, whilst developing their confidence and ‘sellablility’ to future employers. Future Clean is the perfect opportunity for our job-seekers to demonstrate their abilities rather than focussing on any impairment or health issue they may have.”

Rod Burnett, Pluss development manager, explained:

“One of our measures of success is rapid staff turnover, which is the opposite of most businesses. As a social enterprise Pluss’ achievements are measured in social value and job outcomes.

“And we are not looking to train lifelong car valets, people go into a variety of jobs and further training after we have supported them. We have also found that the car parking industry is able to use our example to promote its corporate social responsibility.

“The innovative partnership working between Pluss, the British Parking Association, local parking management teams, local authorities, Jobcentre Plus and DWP Work Choice projects is the real key to getting UK Future Clean projects off the ground and this has certainly been the case in Leeds. My thanks go to parking services team who really comprehend and appreciate the social value delivered by this project and enabled it to happen.”

Future Clean is based on the 5th floor of the car park, opposite the car park office.

Customers should park in a valeting bay and a Future Clean member of staff will come over to find out which service you’re looking for. People should leave the vehicle and keys (if having interior services) with the valeter and it will be ready on your return from your shopping, lunch or meeting.

Opening hours are 7.30am-5pm with final valet booking in at 3pm.

Case study

One person to have benefitted from the Future Clean project is Richard Brenton.

Richard says:

“I was a self employed gardener but had been out of work for a long time. I’d been unwell for a number of years with anxiety and depression; I wasn’t working or going out, I’d become isolated in my flat. I was on benefits but wanted to go back to work and heard about Future Clean from my Pluss Employment Consultant.

“Now I’m working again I’m a lot more positive, although it’s still difficult at times. I get praise from my supervisors, which makes me feel good inside! Its good meeting people and having contact with others. I’m not on benefits now and it makes me proud to be able to say I’m in work.”

A photo of Richard is available on request.

Notes for editors

About Pluss:

1. Pluss is a social enterprise that supports thousands of people with disabilities and other disadvantages into employment each year. We do this through a range of specialist, local employment services and through direct employment within our own commercial enterprises.

2. Pluss passionately believes that people with disabilities make excellent employees and are committed to directly employing disabled people; around half of our 600 strong workforce has a disability.

3. Pluss is a Company limited by guarantee that does not distribute profits. We are owned by Devon County Council, Plymouth City Council, Somerset Council and Torbay Council, and we operate throughout South West England and West Yorkshire, with partner social enterprises across the UK.

4. Pluss is the largest social firm in the UK and the only social firm to be awarded prime contractor status by the Department for Work and Pensions, as part of its major welfare reform programme.

5. Pluss is a certified social enterprise with the Social Enterprise Mark. This means that Pluss has proved it is genuine against independently-assessed criteria for social enterprise. The Mark provides assurance that profits are used to help disabled people gain opportunities to work, acting as a guarantee that Pluss is trading for people and planet. See www.socialenterprisemark.org.uk.

6. Pluss is partly funded by The European Social Fund (ESF), which was set up to improve employment opportunities in the European Union and so help raise standards of living. It aims to help people fulfil their potential by giving them better skills and better job prospects. For more information go to www.dwp.gov.uk/esf.

7. Visit Pluss at www.pluss.org.uk Social Media: facebook.com/plussinspires Tweet us at @PlussInspires

For further information contact Jayne Mills, Pluss PR Officer, on 07436 265847 or at jayne.mills@pluss.org.uk

or Amanda Burns, Leeds City Council press office, on 0113 395 1577 or at amanda.l.burns@leeds.gov.uk