20th April 2020

Firstly, can I please enquire as to how you are all doing? We would love to hear back from you that hopefully you are all safe and well. I expect life has changed dramatically for you, likely working from home, or even on furlough.

I thought I would update you also on how we are doing. Fortunately, with the clarification of Government guidelines, we have found that we have been able to continue providing both our Cleaning and Grounds services. The latter was very challenging at first due to the uncertainty, but we have settled into a routine now, whereby all sites we work with have had their first Grounds visit of the season, and will all receive a second before the end of April. Some of you have us doing additional cleans or are requesting additional services, and I hope we have been able to accommodate as much as possible for you.

As you can imagine, maintaining a sanitised working environment, and complying with Social Distancing regulations has made life very interesting! I am still amazed at how casually a small minority of the public still treat the situation, but in the main, most have been brilliant with us. As a result, I am very pleased to tell you, that out of our whole team, we have only had one that needed to self-isolate for 7 days, and who proved not to have the virus, while all others are safe and well.

At this point, I would like to include a word of heartfelt thanks to you all. While we have worked with a lot of you for many years, some of you are newer to us. We have been very grateful for the trust you have placed in us in helping you to maintain your business services, and in safely dealing with your clients. I hope this has reduced worry for you, and that we have repaid your trust with good customer service. Also, many of you have provided us with excellent documents to assist where we might get questioned by the public or the Authorities, and have also communicated with your clients in a way that has really helped with the Social Distancing requirement. You might be interested to know, that as of today’s date we have not been stopped by the Police once. We believe our clearly sign written vehicles have been key to this.

There are some surprising but very welcome changes that have happened that have enabled us to control potentially spiralling costs – such as fuel coming down in price. This has helped offset the use of additional vehicles in order to make Social Distancing work. Also, the fabulous weather we have finally got in the UK has definitely made our jobs easier to accomplish, and prevented us having to schedule additional time to catch up – we were a bit worried that the horrible start to the year with so much rain would continue! We are certainly extremely busy right now, which is a blessing we are most grateful for.

If you have any questions for us, do by all means email me, and I will do my best to answer you as soon as possible.

Many thanks to you all. May we wish you good health!


3rd April 2020

As the situation with the Coronavirus and advice from the Government continues to move very quickly, it’s true to say that a week has made quite a difference to our own position. Please find below an update to our position on Cleaning and Grounds Maintenance for the next few weeks.

Please pay particular attention to the final section of this update, as we will need your response and co-operation

CLEANING

In line with the Government Directive highlighting this area as an essential service, we will be continuing to provide this to our customers. Please see the relevant information below as reminder:

https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/covid-19-decontamination-in-non-healthcare-settings

“Fortunately, normal cleaning methods do kill this virus. Cleaners, caretakers and concierges play an important role in keeping people in their buildings protected, and are on the frontline in the battle against coronavirus (COVID-19) to keep staff, customers, and particularly the most vulnerable safe.”

If you are unsure of our procedures, please see our messages sent out on 18th, 24th & 27th March. If you would like us to resend any of these, please let us know. We are continuously reviewing our methods and precautions, such as how to implement ‘social distancing’ while working, both as colleagues, and with customers.

GROUNDS MAINTENANCE

In response to both customer demand, and in assessing some Government ‘clarifications’ we have been made aware of the following:

While at the time of last writing on 27th March there was much confusion as to what Grounds Maintenance companies should do, during the last week, the picture has become a bit clearer. Notable are these phrases:

“This critical worker definition does not affect whether or not you can travel to work - if you are not a critical worker, you may still travel to work provided you cannot work from home”

AND

“As set out in the section on staying at home, you can travel for work purposes, but only where you cannot work from home”

https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/full-guidance-on-staying-at-home-and-away-fromothers/full-guidance-on-staying-at-home-and-away-from-others#going-to-work

Please note that these references have been highlighted by Trade Associations such as BALI – British Association of Landscape Industries.

While we feel that some of the points laid out in our last message dated 27th March are still important, we believe that the following is highly relevant:

  • We already are, and can continue to apply Government guidelines on hygiene and social distancing. We achieve this by having the right sanitising products, the right PPE, and right vehicles available to all individuals in our teams.
  • Our customers, and yours, are actively requesting that we do attend, as long as the above can be safely and responsibly implemented. Thus, we feel much more comfortable in reinstating this service.
  • While there will be logistical problems with the disposal of green waste, with understanding, intelligence, and creativity, we can find temporary, if not ideal, solutions to these.

Is there anything you can do to help us at UCS?

Yes, there are TWO things that we feel are quite important:

  1. A headed letter stating that your company employs us to carry out Cleaning and Grounds Services on your behalf, and that UCS are complying with all the latest health and safety advice issued by the UK Government and Public Health England. If this could be emailed to us, we will laminate these and keep them in all our vehicles.
  2. Could you possibly write to shadow boards and residents, explaining that we will be carrying out Cleaning and Grounds Services on your behalf, and that our staff should be respected by maintaining social distancing, and ideally not engaging with them at all, and that any abuse of our staff would be entirely inappropriate.

In the light of all the above, we are pleased to inform you that we will be reinstating all Grounds Maintenance services from Monday April 6th 2020, but we will continue to review our position on a weekly basis dependant on Government advice.

Many thanks to you all. May we wish you good health!


27th March 2020 - IMPORTANT UPDATE

CLEANING: In line with the Government Directive highlighting this area as an essential service, we will be continuing to provide this to our customers. Please see the relevant information below as reminder:

“Fortunately, normal cleaning methods do kill this virus. Cleaners, caretakers and concierges play an important role in keeping people in their buildings protected, and are on the frontline in the battle against coronavirus (COVID-19) to keep staff, customers, and particularly the most vulnerable safe.”

https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/covid-19-decontamination-in-non-healthcare-settings

If you are unsure of our procedures, please see our messages sent out on 18th & 24th March. If you would like us to resend either of these, please let us know. We are continuously reviewing our methods and precautions, such as how to implement ‘social distancing’ while working, both as colleagues, and with customers.

 

GROUNDS MAINTENANCE: With the season due to start fully next week, we have been thinking long and hard about how we stand on this. We have had to consider the following:

  • Does Grounds Maintenance fall under the Government direction of “travelling to and from work, but only where this is absolutely necessary and cannot be done from home”? We believe that by the letter of the law it does.
  • Would we put our employees or the public at more risk by providing Grounds Services? We believe that, if we maintained the same protocols as we do for cleaning, then this should not be the case. However, we also feel that our protocols, though robust, are easily undone by careless or angry members of the public.
  • Is Grounds Maintenance an ‘essential service’ in the same way as cleaning is? We believe it is not.
  • How would the public feel about us continuing with Grounds Services in the current climate? We believe that they would understandably not be happy with this. While we would be complying with the ‘letter of the law’, we may not be complying with the ‘principle of the law’. We feel that the potential short term gain of protecting our business, and our staff, could result in long term damage to us, and to our immediate clients – the Property Management sector.
  • Would there be logistical problems with continuing to provide Ground Services? Yes, all the approved tipping facilities for ‘green waste’ are now closed for the foreseeable future, therefore grass, shrub, hedge clippings and weeds, could not be taken away from site. While some sites might have the facilities for us to mulch or tip the waste temporarily, this is not the case for most. We do have a contingency plan for this, but we see that facility being very quickly overwhelmed.
  • How do we at UCS feel about providing continued Grounds Services from a moral perspective? We have always been, and always will be, an honest, ethical, and thoughtful company in line with our personal values. These are not always considered as compatible to the running of a modern business. However, we disagree. Therefore, to continue with Grounds Services at this time, is something we would feel most uncomfortable with.

Based on all of the above, and after a great deal of thought and internal discussion, we have reached the very difficult decision to postpone all Grounds Services at least for the time being, and to await and comply with what we feel is the ongoing direction from the U.K. Government.

We hope that you will all understand our stance in this matter. I am sure like us, you too have had to make some very difficult decisions. As Mr. Johnson has said many times, “We’re all in this together”.

GROUNDS MAINTENANCE CHARGES - You may have a question on how we will approach charging for our Grounds Maintenance services from April onwards? This is an area that we would like to come to agreement with each Customer we deal with individually, as each may take a different approach with their respective clients. Therefore, we will communicate this on a personal ‘Customer by Customer’ basis.

CONCLUSION - Please can we ask, that if you have any questions concerning our general policy above, or if you wish to discuss the individual needs of specific sites, please do contact us, particularly Richard Shelton, and we will be happy to talk these through.

Many thanks to you, many of whom we have had a very long relationship with. May we wish you good health!


24th March 2020

In the light of the Prime Minister’s announcement last night, We are writing to update you on what we believe the up to date situation is regarding cleaning. Please find below a link to the Government website. I have also copied and pasted the relevant paragraph below:

“Fortunately, normal cleaning methods do kill this virus. Cleaners, caretakers and concierges play an important role in keeping people in their buildings protected, and are on the frontline in the battle against coronavirus (COVID-19) to keep staff, customers, and particularly the most vulnerable safe.”

https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/covid-19-decontamination-in-non-healthcare-settings

We have therefore decided, that for now, we will continue to provide cleaning services to you and your clients as normal, unless advised otherwise. We have already enforced new procedures as per our update on 18th March. We are continuously reviewing our methods and precautions, such as how to implement ‘social distancing’ while working, both as colleagues, and with customers.

It is vitally important, now more than ever, that personal items left by residents in communal areas should be removed by them immediately for obvious reasons, and it would be most helpful if that could be communicated to them. The ‘Tips’ are now closing, so we cannot dispose of such items for the time being.

GROUNDS MAINTENANCE: As the season is about to get under way, we are not entirely sure yet where we stand on this and are seeking clarification. We would point out the following however:

  • IF we are able to continue with this, we will likely not be able to collect grass clippings as the tipping sites to which we normally take green waste will all be closed. You may wish to inform your clients of this.
  • If we are not able or allowed to commence the season due to Government guidelines, then for now, the provision of grounds services will need to be delayed by 2 - 3 weeks initially. We MIGHT be able to send single operatives to sites, but as you can imagine, we will only be able to carry out limited works, not our full specification.
  • We would ask that residents do not approach our staff if at all possible so that ‘social distancing’ can operate effectively.

We certainly are living through unprecedented times, and we do not have all the answers that you might be hoping for from us. Suffice to say, we will comply with all Government directives as best we can, and keep you, our customers, informed as best we can.

Many thanks to you, and may we wish you good health!


18th March 2020

Maybe you, or your clients are concerned about us visiting premises to clean them, and soon, to carry out grounds maintenance. As a professional and responsible cleaning company, hopefully everyone should be re-assured to see us, as we are there to help protect them and their environment.

We have always tried to work to industry best practice. However, the spread of Coronavirus means that we too needed to take a look at what we do. This isn't just about protecting you, our clients, but also our staff too

We have reviewed all our procedures and products that we use. What measures have we/ are we taking?

  • All our teams will be wearing disposable gloves at all times.
  • Each of our vehicles have a plentiful supply of hand sanitiser. Our teams know to use it regularly.
  • We have switched from an antibacterial cleaner to a much more expensive, but effective, antiviral cleaner.
  • Extra attention is being given to contact points such as door handles, entry systems, finger plates, switches, sockets, handrails, alarm panels and boxes etc.
  • All team members are practising the next level of hygiene awareness now, including wearing fresh clothes and uniforms each day.
  • At the end of each day, the interior of each van, all equipment used, all chemicals handled, are being disinfected with antiviral cleaner.