Commercial Work

IntroductionWhat we doSocial Value & Supply ChainsCore BusinessNew SectorsFacts & Figures

Our business is jobs.

Described as the only company in the country where you need a criminal record to work for us, we know all about the challenges of getting employment, but also how hard it is to run a contract. Simply put, our aim is to bring commercial value to our clients, whether we are included as a part of their supply chain or if we are contracted to do the work directly ourselves. The experience we bring has been developed over the last 10 years, employing over 1,200 people (all ex-offenders), and working in an expanding range of industries.

What we do not bring is an expectation that we will be viewed as a soft option to be ‘tolerated’ on a contract – if we don’t achieve results, our clients know they can ask us to leave. That they don’t is probably the best testament to our ability to deliver. We also know what a contract requires, and the pressures that come with managing a contract, and our business model has been developed to fit the industries we work in, not the other way around.

For all the sectors we cover, we know we are only as good as the work we undertake. We must match or improve on the quality available elsewhere. We offer our clients skilled, motivated and closely supervised staff at competitive rates, but our aim is also to ensure we bring more value than they pay for:

  • We are cost-effective, with rates directly comparable to agency labour providers
  • We deliver top-quality work – and our clients’ repeat business demonstrates that we maintain consistently high standards
  • We provide our own experienced working supervisors to manage our people
  • The team supervisor is the single point of contact creating an efficient working relationship

To get into employment, our people have to make positive decisions and overcome formidable obstacles to put their lives back together. Most of our employees, when offered a job, appreciate the break they are being given and this makes for considerable loyalty. The determination and commitment an individual needs to break the cycle of re-offending is often found to be indicative of someone with the intention of becoming a really dedicated employee.

contract map imageBlue Sky works with a growing number of public and private sector companies in an increasing range of sectors across much of England. From our main office just off the M40/M25 near Uxbridge, we cover the south of England from Kent, up to Oxford and Milton Keynes, along the Thames Valley/M4 corridor to Gloucester and are growing through Hampshire and Surrey. By working with a number of partners in the north of England, we are developing our services to ensure that we can support our clients wherever they have a requirement.

With 10 years’ experience placing people into work, we know the types of work that fits Blue Sky. The types of industry we cover include those roles into which someone can be introduced and be economically active in a very short period of time – the agency roles – and there are a vast number of these types of vacancy in the UK every year.

If Blue Sky isn’t currently covering your sector, we’d be delighted to discuss with you how we might do so.

Private Sector

DSC_0021“Blue Sky has been a part of our work in Slough for over 7 years, helping us to deliver exceptional service within the borough, without adding to the complexity of our operational delivery. Through their work, we have helped over 150 of Slough’s most socially excluded residents, simply by integrating a small team as a part of our workforce. The easy fit of Blue Sky makes it a simple decision to continue to include their teams and I would recommend them without hesitation” 

Richard West, Managing Director, Slough Enterprise

As Blue Sky matures as an organisation, we have learnt the needs of our private sector clients – and have built those needs into our own operational culture.  Our determination to provide the highest quality of service and support has led to growth across sectors and a developing client and contact list which includes the largest companies operating within those sectors.

When you work with Blue Sky, your company is gaining much more than the services of our cost-effective, trained and expertly-supervised teams. Hiring Blue Sky can lead to additional benefits for your company.

The reduction of re-offending is one of the government’s and every local authority’s prime targets. Recruiting ex-offenders is a great way for employers to demonstrate their social responsibility and build social value as an integral part of their supply chain.

amey     veolia     quadron      iss     East village      Gavin Jones

deloitte    compass    virgin        riverisland   Closed Loop    Nabarro

Public Sector

“The standard of work that has been undertaken at Gun Wharf by the Victor team is first class. I hope that the Project is able to develop into other areas across Kent and Medway as I believe it offers an excellent added social value to public sector contracts. Victor has the full support of Medway Council and I would commend it to other Councils.”

Neil Davies, Chief Executive, Medway Council

DSC_0043The vast majority of our commercial income each year comes from smart procurement by the public sector. Local authorities tell us that we win contracts because we can match or improve on the quality available elsewhere.

Some of the foremost concerns of every local council are waste and recycling services and the maintenance of its parks and open spaces. Multi-million pound budgets are allocated each year to fund in-house teams or long-term contracts with private sector providers. Both hire additional labour as the seasons change or to cover for holiday, sickness and to provide flexibility within the workforce – Blue Sky can reliably supply this labour all year round.

Councils we work with recognise that they can create jobs for their unemployed ex-offenders with Blue Sky at no additional costs to themselves. Councillors tell us that crime is one of, if not the, hottest local issues they have to deal with. Yet with budget pressures there is no available funding to address the problem.

In taking on Blue Sky, the public sector gets two things for the price of one:

  • High-quality provision of essential services
  • The rehabilitation of some the most costly members in your area (in effect for free)

   slough       hillingdon      ealing        medway         oxford

hounslow          wandsworth          gloucester         croydon        southwark

kingston            Layout 1     watford     r&b

Greenford“I would not hesitate to recommend Blue Sky and their dedicated team of advisors and managers to other organisations or local authorities who may be considering their involvement in the horticultural field”

Keith Rowe, General Manager, Gloucester Enterprise

From our origins with a single team working in a local authority park clearing shrub beds we have grown in ambition and diversified our skills base but grounds maintenance, recycling and waste management remain critically important parts of our business.

Grounds Maintenance

The maintenance of parks, open spaces, cemeteries, nature reserves and areas of ecological importance all form a part of the core work Blue Sky undertakes.

We not only work directly under contracts and service level agreements with local authorities and large private sector companies, but have also been successful in winning new business in our own right. This includes the award of contracts based on tender submissions, innovative partnerships we have developed which bring value for our clients, but we are also undertaking an increasing volume of individually priced pieces of work. Whether for the control of noxious weeds, clearing back overgrown pathways and allotments, or helping to bring a private resident’s garden back under control, we are always keen to discuss how we can help.

Big or small, we have found our flexibility and quality of service has resulted in an increasing demand from our clients:

  • In 2013/14 we maintained and improved over 3.4 million square metres of land.
  • We planted over 35,000 trees on 2012/13 to create a Jubilee Woodland in a park in Slough (despite having to contend with one of the hardest winters of recent years).
  • Blue Sky teams maintained 10 cemeteries across London – teams of “strimmer pilots” keeping them in a standard suitable for all visitors (for example in Wandsworth Cemetery pictured below)
  • Helped reduce crime in the park around Mo Farah’s original training ground by 30% by working with the local authority to renovate it – to the great satisfaction of the local residents
  • In one borough,  maintained more than 130 residents’ gardens, watered 2000 street trees, helping them achieve new Green Flag awards, and turning abandoned plots into linear parks
  • We are also in discussion with community groups and Parish councils over how we might help with devolved responsibilities for local grounds maintenance work

DSC_0011     DSC_0016

Waste Management & Recycling

Graeme&Sharon2A service closely allied to grounds maintenance is the management of waste and recycling. Blue Sky has developed our experience in the sector which has grown steadily from its origins in the London Borough of Hillingdon. Our first contract resulted in our team diverting over 130 tonnes of material from landfill every week. As well as saving the borough money, this proved our ability to adapt into a new sector, and led to our diversifying into this rapidly evolving industry.

The list of our clients has grown to include some of the largest UK waste management companies (such as Veolia and Amey) as well as directly within local authority workforces. They all recognise that we offer a cost effective alternative to agency labour. Wherever we work, we bring added social value at no additional cost, offering competitive advantage as a part of an easily integrated part of most contracts.

Agency+

We recognised early on that placing a team into these contracts would not fit easily into the operation. To overcome this we have developed an enhanced ‘agency’ approach, whereby we can place 1, 2, 3 or more people within a service who can be used wherever the managers and supervisors need them the most. We provide our usual suite of mentoring, supervision, training and onward job support, helping to ensure they remain in work, and do not reoffend. All that we ask is that there is some stability for the employee – preferably for a 6 month period across the contract.

Agency+ has been warmly received by our clients in many industries, and has helped us place Blue Sky employees into a number of roles in recycling and waste:

  • Quality control on picking lines
  • “Meeters & Greeters” (direct customer service) at HWRCs
  • Yard-workers on depots – keeping them in a safe and tidy state
  • Beach cleaners
  • Leafing crews
  • Collection teams – green waste, recycling and residual waste crews
  • Bulky waste collections
  • Leafleting and bin distribution for new services

One of Blue Sky’s key targets is to move our employees into full time work, and we are keen to work with our partners to ensure the training we provide makes them ready to take on roles within their core workforce. This might include pesticide application training, HGV or forklift driving, but this can be adapted according to the needs of our clients – and with Blue Sky, there is no introductory fee if you take one of our people on.

Our way of working fits perfectly to many industries which have a need for entry-level skilled operatives. If anyone from Blue Sky is employed in a contract, they will be gaining the additional support from one of our supervisors (a working member of the team) plus backup from our highly experienced managers, mentoring from the resettlement team, and the focus of our HR manager. Almost all of them are ex-offenders themselves, and are not only able to demonstrate how someone’s life can be positively turned around, but they also understand all the issues our people will be facing.

We always ensure a supervisor or a named manager is there as the point of contact for our clients, and to provide support, mentoring and discipline for our employees. A proven model, our approach is also to remain as flexible as possible, an added attraction for operational managers balancing the changing demands of clients, resources and budgets.

Having established an excellent reputation for the quality of the work we deliver in the core parts of our business (grounds maintenance and waste management) we have developed our operational model to fit with other sectors. Our approach of offering an alternative to agency labour with social value and competitive advantage included fits many of the industries reliant upon short term contract labour.

Catering

Greg, catering

Catering is one of the new industries we’ve recently entered. We bring committed, supervised and closely managed individuals to work as an integral part of a kitchen team, matching the aptitude and skills of our employees to the tasks required. It is perhaps not widely known but prisoners often work in prison kitchens and receive basic catering and hygiene qualifications prior to release.

Contract catering is big business in the UK, and it is also a big user of temporary and agency staff (the only roles Blue Sky will ever look to replace) and in 2012, this industry accounted for over 18% of agency use in the UK*. Winning our first catering contract with Deloitte, one of the biggest professional services firms in London, and Restaurant Associates (part of the Compass Group) proved the concept, and with tremendously successful results, confirming our belief in the strength of our operational model.

Our next Blue Sky team will soon be in post, starting their careers, working, learning new skills and getting the chance to put their lives back in shape.

“We have been so impressed by Greg’s enthusiasm, dedication and determination to make this opportunity work, that it has been a real pleasure to have him as a part of our team. With staff of Greg’s quality, it is a no-brainer that we look forward to taking on more people from Blue Sky”

Andy Thorley, Deputy Group Manager, Restaurant Associates

*ONS Labour Force Survey

Logistics, Distribution, Laundries, Facilities Management – and more

Although our origins were in grounds maintenance, we have always known the most important aspect of any job we find for our employees is that it must be one which they can fit into easily, whatever their background. Entry level roles, in which a Blue Sky employee can be economically efficient within a few days of starting work are ideal, and as well as work in parks, recycling, waste management and catering, we have teams working in in distribution centres, commercial laundries and in facilities management. Our point of principal remains that we will never replace a full-time role, but with their large requirement for agency labour this type of work suits our operational model perfectly.

It is probably not widely known, but all the internet orders, the cleaning of a towel used by someone in a branded gym, or the management of an empty social housing property not only all involve large workforces, but many of the people working on them will be on agency or short-term contracts. We have teams folding towels, selecting items of clothing in huge distribution centres, and working in contracts run by ‘Teckals’ – a new approach whereby local authorities retain greater control of out-sourced services.

We are also establishing a small team to gain experience working with heavy horses with the ambition of moving them onto jobs in the equine, equestrian or any related industry.

Other work-in-progress includes a proposal for Blue Sky to work with industry bodies who have identified a looming skills gap – the rail industry, utilities sector, and transport (LGV drivers) industries all recognise more people are retiring than entering their sector. We believe we can help train Blue Sky candidates (potentially as serving prisoners) who will work with us while proving their value for a full time job in a client’s workforce. Helping Britain’s economy in a very small way, but making a huge difference to someone’s life.

Charlie       photo 1        bruce website

  • We cover the south of England and London from our base in Denham but are continuing to develop ways to achieve national coverage. With our long-standing partners in the north and north-west of England we have established Blue Sky North as a consortium to achieve this growth
  • Blue Sky now manages over 30 commercial contracts across England
  • We have operatives working in a ground-breaking recycling plant in Dagenham called Closed Loop
  • In 2014 for the first time we had over 110 ex-offenders on our weekly payroll at any one time
  • We employed over 70 people with our top 3 clients in 2014/15
  • In 2013/14 we maintained and improved over 3.4 million square metres of land
  • We planted over 35,000 trees in 2012/13 to create a Jubilee Woodland in a park in Slough (despite having to contend with one of the hardest winters of recent years)
  • Blue Sky teams maintained 10 cemeteries across London – teams of “strimmer pilots” keeping them in a standard suitable for all visitors
  • Helped reduce crime in the park around Mo Farah’s original training ground by 30% by working with the local authority to renovate it – to the great satisfaction of the local residents
  • In one borough,  we maintained more than 130 residents’ gardens, watered 2,000 street trees, helping them achieve new Green Flag awards, and turning abandoned plots into linear parks
contract map image

If you are a commercial client wanting to discuss further please send an enquiry using the form below: