News, People

The Last Word – Jennifer O’Donnell, Jane Jefferson Cleaning

Jennifer O’Donnell owns Jane Jefferson Cleaning, a commercial and domestic cleaning company based in South East London. Commercial cleans cover zones 1 and 2 and domestic cleaning all of South East London.

Jennifer is committed to ensuring low paid workers are protected with fair pay and employment rights and has highlighted the challenges of this through various politicians, press, radio, TV interviews and on a panel at a Living Wage symposium at the House of Commons. In 2015 Heidi Alexander MP held her up in the House of Commons as an example to how big business should operate.

How long have you lived in the area?

I’ve lived here for 12 years. At the time it was the only area still close to central London where we could buy a house and a garden. I love the feel here, it is like a village in the middle of London.

The most famous person you’ve seen or met?

I used to work in the entertainment sector where you get to meet lots of interesting people and it’s hard to pick out one. Ray Davies once told me I looked like a Cabaret singer & Ian Brown predicted I was having a boy when I was 7 months pregnant (I had a girl).

Do you belong to any groups?

I have just started going to CWS (Cooking With Scissors); a local business networking initiative that meets upstairs at the Palmerston every last Wednesday of the month. If you run a local business this is a great way to meet and network with other businesses. It is very friendly and there is varied mix of trades who share business knowledge and chit chat.

Describe your perfect weekend

We are so lucky in London that there is so much to see and do. I love using a London Walks guide book (currently using London Hidden Walks by Stephen Millar) and meeting up with a few friends to explore the corners of this city that most of us walk past unnoticed in our daily lives. We usually fall upon a fair few pubs along the way which is, of course, all part of the adventure.

Where are you likely to be found on Saturday?

Saturday is the day I play taxi service to my children’s weekend activities, so I am usually somewhere between Goose Green and Alleyns school claiming it is the worst traffic ever and wishing I’d set off 15 minutes earlier! At some point I’ll either pop into a café (Duck Egg is my favourite) or wander around the market on North Cross Road only to realise that I’m late for the pick- up and then I jump back on that hamster wheel again and off I go!

The best meal I’ve ever had…

Every 3 months or so my husband and a friend get up at 4.30am on a Saturday and trek up to Billingsgate market to stock up on fish. That evening we have a kind of scallops and black pudding paella fiesta. It is rude food to the max!

What’s your favourite place to go for a drink?

The Gowlett. A great mix of people, fun atmosphere and the best pizza in London. Oh and the best New Year’s Day parties ever! A close second is Franks’ on top of the Peckham Car Park on a warm summer’s night with a saunter through the Bold Tendencies art levels along the way.

The best kept secret…

Hot Yoga Peckham (various locations locally). As a trepid yoga beginner, I can honestly say that Stevie Jamieson’s classes have changed my approach to life and managing the stresses and strains of being a full time working mum. This is such a great class; dynamic, fun and incredibly stress relieving.

Where’s your favourite place to walk?

Peckham Rye Park. If you enter via Dunstan’s Road in the morning you will be welcomed by the Dawn Chorus of our local birdlife.

If money was no object…

I would build a utility room. It’s all I want out of life.

My perfect holiday

A family holiday in a seaman’s cottage overlooking the sea in Pett Level, near Rye. I don’t think anything has changed here for +70 years and our time would be spent cycling, walking, reading and pub hopping. It’s such a beautiful corner of the world that you can smell heaven when you arrive.

My secret ambition…

To go into politics. Jane Jefferson Cleaning has at times felt just as much a social movement as it has a business. We are a traditional employer and employ our workers so they are protected with employment rights. With the rise of the gig economy we are all making consumer choices that are at odds with our value sets. Cheap & on demand is at the expense of worker exploitation. I want to change that.

www.janejeffersoncleaning.com