Bristol-based learning disability co-operative celebrates 20 years in business

Mencap ACS staff and Mayor

A Clean Sweep members displaying their commemorative plaque alongside the Mayor of Bristol, George Ferguson

A Clean Sweep, a Bristol-based cleaning service set-up and run by people with a learning disability, celebrated its 20th anniversary in Bristol’s Vassall Centre last Friday (9 January). A Clean Sweep is the longest running co-operative of its kind and is supported by Mencap’s employment service.

The event played host to many of the co-operative’s local supporters, clients, and the Mayor of Bristol, George Ferguson.  The event kicked off at 11am with speeches from A Clean Sweep employees, before the Mayor delivered a congratulatory speech at midday, which was followed by a champagne toast and lunch.

A Clean Sweep was the first co-operative of its time to be run only by people with a learning disability when it was set-up in 1995. Over the past 20 years, the co-operative has employed more staff with a learning disability and taken on more local cleaning contracts. The co-operative plans to continue its impressive growth over the coming years, by providing a high quality cleaning service as well as opportunities for people with a learning disability to learn new skills and gain valuable work experience.

Mayor of Bristol, George Ferguson (@GeorgeFergusonx), Tweeted after the event: 

“It was great to have opportunity to celebrate 20 years of @acleansweepcoop & 16 years of Debbie!”

Debbie has a learning disability and lives in Bristol. She joined A Clean Sweep in 1995 and has progressed from being a cleaner to being one of the co-operative’s directors. Debbie said: 

“Before A Clean Sweep, I was in the day centre every day. I kept getting told that I would never get a job and I would not be able to keep it either if I got one because of my learning disability. But I am still here after 20 years! I have completed an NVQ in office work and I run the company meetings every Friday. I am really proud.”

A Clean Sweep is supported by Mencap’s employment service, which supports the individuals to fulfil their contractual commitments to the customers and expand their existing client base.

Sukhjinder Sandhu, business development co-ordinator for A Clean Sweep on behalf of Mencap, said:

“In the five years that I have been the business development co-ordinator for A Clean Sweep, the company has grown and is successful and profitable. We compete in the workplace with main stream companies and are winning contracts in open tendering processes.

“We believe the way A Clean Sweep was set-up and is run could easily be copied by other groups of people with a learning disability who want to have control of their own working lives.

“The 20th anniversary event was a wonderful day, where everybody involved with A Clean Sweep got to celebrate what the co-operative has achieved. I am very hopeful that A Clean Sweep will continue from strength to strength for another 20 years to come!”

About Mencap 

There are 1.4 million people with a learning disability in the UK. Mencap works to support people with a learning disability, their families and carers by fighting to change laws, improve services and access to education, employment and leisure facilities. Mencap supports thousands of people with a learning disability to live their lives the way they want.  www.mencap.org.uk

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