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Introduction from the new BCC Chair

Published 4th August, 2023 by Delia Cannings

Delia Cannings

Delia Cannings

British Cleaning Council
The British Cleaning Council

David Garcia, Delia Cannings and Jim Melvin.
David Garcia, Delia Cannings and Jim Melvin.

Delia Cannings, British Cleaning Council Chair, reports.

I was honoured to be elected in July as new Chair of the British Cleaning Council.

As Deputy Chair of the BCC for the previous two years and also a very active member of the cleaning and hygiene industry for 45 years, I am convinced that it is vital that we in the sector must work together through the council if we are to make our voice heard.

I have worked across the public, private, cleaning, health, hospitality, commercial, education and training sectors and am involved with both the Association of Healthcare Cleaning Professionals (ahcp) and UK Housekeepers Association (UKHA), so I have seen how important our work is and yet how it is chronically undervalued by Government.

The cleaning, hygiene and waste industry is one of the biggest in the UK, worth £59 billion. Our professional and skilled cleaning staff carry out a vital role keeping the public healthy, safe, and well, and it is essential that this is recognised by those outside the industry.

People think of us as ‘just cleaners’ but in fact we are ‘environmental ninjas’, as I like to call them, a role which needs knowledge and skill and has a huge impact on the environment, the economy and people’s lives and wellbeing.

I’ve seen firsthand the huge dedication and drive of people in this industry in normal times and, throughout the pandemic, watched heroic colleagues working tirelessly, relentlessly, and passionately caring, covering long hours at the frontline, often putting themselves at risk to protect others.

So the campaign for recognition for the sector and its staff, which my inspirational forerunning as Chair, Jim Melvin, worked so hard on, will continue to be a vital part of our work going forward. As part of this, we will relaunch the ‘We Clean, We Care’ campaign and continue the drive to lobby MPs to make cleaning and hygiene a national priority.

I want to thank the hundreds of people who have supported the lobbying campaign so far. If you haven’t, we really need your support, please get involved. It will only take a few minutes to download the letter from our website and email it to your MP. Find out more by scanning the QR code (QR code to be included?).

A key strand of our work with the Government is the sector’s All Party Parliamentary Group. Despite the immense and determined efforts of the BCC so far, the APPG has not developed as much as we would have liked. High on my agenda is the need to revitalise it, and I am delighted that Jim has agreed to continue to support this important strand of our work.

I am also passionate about education and training in the sector – a passion that led me to found Environmental Excellence Training & Development, which has in turn trained hundreds of staff in the healthcare, hospitality, and commercial cleaning sectors, including many of the cleaning industry’s leaders over the years.

Education and training in the sector will be a key focus for me as Chair of the BCC going forward. As part of that, we are hoping that the Apprenticeship Standard for the industry will be signed off later this year, ready for a launch early in 2024.

Together with the Chartered Practitioners Register run by the Worshipful Company of Environment Cleaners (WCEC), the Cleaning Hygiene Operative Apprenticeship will form a key rung in creating a career ladder for the sector, which will help attract the new entrants our industry needs, as well as helping teach essential technical skills. Pathways to progression will be embedded making career opportunities within the sector attractive.

It will also allow the millions of pounds spent by larger sector companies on the Apprenticeship Levy, which currently goes to the Government, to be invested in training and developing staff. I believe it is essential that businesses are allowed to invest their money in their industry. Assuming it does win approval, launching the Cleaning Hygiene Operative Apprenticeship and encouraging businesses in the industry to take it up will be a key priority in the coming months.

I’ll be supported over the next two years by the very capable David Garcia, who has been one of the leading figures in the cleaning and hygiene industry for a number of years. David is the Treasurer and Vice-President of BCC member the Cleaning & Hygiene Suppliers Association (CHSA) and was the founder and former Chairman of Polaris Plastics. He brings valuable experience, knowledge and understanding of the cleaning industry and, alongside our BCC colleagues, we will focus on solidifying the work already completed and pursue further development for betterment of the industry.

Finally, I can’t sign off without thanking Jim, my predecessor, for his sterling work over the last two years. Jim is a passionate and committed champion, a consummate professional of the industry and has worked energetically and resolutely in the interests of the industry, the BCC, and our members. No-one could have done more to make the voice of our industry heard loud and clear.

Thank you Jim. I’m delighted that he has agreed to stay on to help with our work around the APPG.

About the contributor

Delia Cannings

Delia Cannings


British Cleaning Council

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