New Head of Housekeeping reflects on almost 20 years at Trinity Hall
Marta Janko is sat at her desk in the College’s Thompson Lane buildings, set in a quiet section in the heart of Cambridge, just off the main streets and a five minute walk from the historic Trinity Hall central site.
“At Trinity Hall you are in a College you give your heart to.”
She’s been in post a few months now, having inherited a strong team from the previous Head of Housekeeping Yvonne Chapman.
Marta has been at Trinity Hall for much longer than her few months in charge suggests – in fact it will be 20 years in January since she started work here. Coming to Cambridge from Poland in the early 1990s to learn English Marta soon fell in love with the city’s international community.
“When I started I thought I would move on after three years or so. After 20 years here I know how Trinity Hall gets under your skin. You become very attached to it. You meet people from all walks of life, from all over the world.”
She’s worked in every part of the College and in different roles: “I think I’ve had every housekeeping job here.” Her career gives the perfect overview of what “housekeeping” means in Trinity Hall and how important it is.
Marta’s first roll was as a bedder – the Cambridge term for a housekeeper – and she soon progressed. In 2003 she became Hostel Keeper for three houses Trinity Hall ran on Mill Road with 24 postgraduates in residence. “They were a wonderful community. Older students who I really got on with.”
That close relationship with students is one of the great aspects of working in housekeeping says Marta. “You get to know them so well and they trust you; confide in you. With some you become like family. I am still in contact with many of the students I’ve met through work.”
The work is hard says Marta – housekeeping stretching across all three sites (Central, Wychfield and Thompson Lane) and is made up of 41 people; making it the largest department in the College.
“It is personally very rewarding but it is a demanding role. Housekeeping is not just about cleaning. We are often the first point of contact for students, making sure they know how the College works. We see the students face-to-face and are often the first to know if they’re unwell or unhappy.”
In 2008 Marta became housekeeper to the Master’s Lodge. “It was the heart of the social life of the College. We had ambassadors and the Vice-Chancellor visiting, and even the then Chancellor of the University, Prince Philip.”
Marta went from being Housekeeper at the Master’s Lodge to being assistant head of housekeeping at the Central Site and then head of housekeeping in Thompson Lane before taking up her current position earlier this year.
“At Trinity Hall you are in a College you give your heart to. It is My College. You come to work and you see these beautiful buildings and your friends and it makes you want to stay. Being given this position gives me an overwhelming sense of joy! Each time I was promoted I was proud of myself and joyful with the College for recognising our work.”
Now as Head of Housekeeping Marta says she’s lucky to have inherited a “well established” team, full of friendly and hard-working staff. She says much of that is down to the previous incumbent, Yvonne Chapman, who retired this year. “Yvonne had it all under her control for 13 years, having worked here for many years before becoming Head of Housekeeping. The team she has established are all hardworking and wonderful people. They have a great work ethic – I would say they are all wonderful people who are working hard and proud of what they are doing.”