A Caerphilly cleaning company which trains unemployed and hard to reach people, along with international foreign exchange students, is celebrating its rapid growth by branching out into garden maintenance.

Bedwas-based grcleaning has grown from a workforce of two to 13 since it was established in 2009, providing competitively-priced, ‘socially responsible’ cleaning services to local business and householders ‘seven days a week, 365 days a year’.

Formerly called Graig Rhosyn Cleaning Services, the business was recently awarded £9,000 by the EU-funded South East Wales Community Economic Development programme towards the cost of rebranding, creating a website and designing brochures and staff training.

Supported by the European Regional Development Fund through the Welsh Government and run by a six-Valleys local authorities’ consortium of Merthyr Tydfil, Bridgend, Blaenau Gwent, Caerphilly, Rhondda Cynon Taf and Torfaen, SEWCED has invested £7.3m in 106 social enterprises since it began in 2010, helping to create 22 social enterprises and 110 full-time jobs.

Former Secretary of the Aber Valley Communities First Partnership Istvan Racz set up grcleaning alongside two volunteer directors with the aim of generating employment for local people.

Today, the 13-strong workforce is supported by two volunteers providing administrative assistance and a board of five volunteer directors.

Business development manager Istvan said: “We work in partnership with other social enterprises such as Smart Money Credit Union, Gofal and Graig-y-Rhacca and New Tredegar Resource Centres providing a high quality, cost effective cleaning service in honest socially responsible way.

“We also work with large commercial companies such as ISG and Encon Construction, providing end of project 'sparkle cleans', ensuring facilities are cleaned to an exceptional standard before final handover. And we source all our cleaning materials from Hengoed family-run janitorial supplies firm Adcock.”

From its offices at the Bedwas House Industrial Estate, grcleaning works with local education and training providers such as ACT, Educ8, ITEC, Interserve Working Futures, Elite and Coleg y Cwmoedd and Jobcentre Plus to provide work placements for unemployed and hard to reach people, trainees and students.

“We’ve previously received international foreign exchange students from the Erasmus programme, and have a student travelling over from Ibiza later on in the year,” Istvan added.

It was recently decided to expand the business by starting the ground maintenance service, providing grass cutting, hedge trimming, shrubs and borders and hedge and tree removal, but also tackling fly tipping, litter and leaf clearance, weed control, winter gritting and snow clearance.

“Through the provision of high quality, low-cost gardening services, we believe that we will be able to target another sector of potential business and revenue which will serve as a precursor to us becoming fully self-sustainable,” said Istvan.

Cllr Ken James, Caerphilly County Borough Council cabinet member for regeneration, planning and sustainable development, said: “This is exactly the kind of project that the SEWCED programme supports – one that is genuinely helping to enhance the lives of people and communities across south east Wales. I wish the team at grcleaning all the best with this expansion project.”