Just Helpers?

7th May 2024 | From our team

Antoinette Daniel is the founder of Just Helpers, an award-winning cleaning business that always pays its workers a real living wage.

The Clewer Initiative

Antoinette’s modern slavery story began on Anti-Slavery Day in 2005. She had recently achieved her lifelong goal of buying her own house and was happily working her way up the career ladder, teaching PE at a private girls’ school.

She was sitting in a majority white, middle class church in London when the preacher began talking about slavery. First, he spoke about the transatlantic slave trade, then he started talking about the millions of vulnerable people caught up in slavery today. Antoinette heard the figure of 27.9 million people and thought to herself: “that can’t be right. He must be wrong.” She felt sure the statistic was an embellishment so she decided to find out more.

Over the next three years, she kept hearing more and more about modern slavery and human trafficking. Initially, she felt shock and disbelief. Then she felt despair and anger.

She kept thinking: “someone needs to do something about this.” But she never thought she could be part of the answer. She felt it was the responsibility of the Police or social workers or the Government. After all, what could a PE teacher from Croydon achieve?


After many coincidences and encounters, she began to wonder if God was challenging her to do something but she also didn’t want to leave her comfortable life. She was “ducking and diving” from God and “doing lots of deals with him.” Finally, while at a Christian conference called Spring Harvest, she decided to pray and fast to seek God’s wisdom and guidance.

The week at Spring Harvest progressed and she didn’t sense God speaking to her or have any sort of lightbulb moment. Then, on the penultimate day, the final meeting was hosted by Stop the Traffik. The talk was about exploitation around the world. She couldn’t believe it! At the end of the evening, the speaker invited people to come forward if they felt God was asking them to do something. Antoinette knew this was her moment!

Initially, Antoinette imagined herself going overseas but following a two year training course at All Nations Christian College and a one year internship with the International Justice Mission (IJM), she began to think more about exploitation in the UK.

Antoinette was working part time for an anti-human trafficking organisation but to help make ends meet, she decided to pick up a few jobs, cleaning houses. It was flexible work and she had always loved cleaning! Soon she was being asked to clean more houses than she could manage and needed to find some colleagues. One of her colleagues, a Bulgarian, was staggered that Antoinette paid her what she promised and always paid on time.

This shocked Antoinette – to her, these things were a given but she soon realised that in the cleaning sector, many workers were being treated terribly. One colleague was owed for three months’ work, another was living in chaotic accommodation, sharing mattresses with ten others.

Before long, word spread that Antoinette was a fair employer and she had people asking to work for her. It dawned on Antoinette that this could be the work God was calling her to do – setting up a company that treated workers fairly.

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Just Helpers has grown significantly over the last eight years. It now has 39 self-employed “helpers” and an admin team of six. It provides cleaning services to the whole of London – 114 post codes – and currently has 290 clients and a turnover of £0.75million. At its heyday, it had nearly 600 clients and was the best paying cleaning agency in the UK. Profit is still extremely low and Brexit and Covid have posed significant challenges but Antoinette always pays over the Real Living Wage.

Wonderfully, Antoinette has seen the impact her business has made on individuals. Many of her team have become close friends and their lives changed dramatically once they began receiving a fair wage. They were able to move into suitable accommodation, build up savings and some went off to college and university.

In the last couple of years, Antoinette has turned her attention to lobbying for change at a macro level. She was invited to contribute to the Mayor of London’s ‘Good Work Standard’ initiative as a Champion. The aim of this initiative is to promote equitable and nurturing working standards in London businesses. She is working hard to network and inform key individuals in policy making so that employment laws and policies protect everyone. In June, Antoinette will join the Living Wage Foundation, something that she is extremely excited and passionate about. She adds: "If people own a domestic cleaning agency and have thoughts and concerns about being a Real Living Wage member, do get in touch."

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Do you run a business? Are you sure that your workers are paid a fair wage? Do you know about the Real Living Wage? Find out more here

Could you set up a similar social enterprise or business in your town or city?

Antoinette is just one woman who God has used to change the lives of dozens of vulnerable people in London. She never imagined how He might use her.

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