FENLANDER: Care & Repair service wins national award

THEY are friendly, hard-working and utterly trustworthy. That’s what clients say about the men from Care & Repair’s Handyperson service – and that’s why it has just won a national award.

The scheme is Fenland District Council’s approved home improvement agency and it has recently gained a Handyperson Service of the year commendation in this year’s national Foundations Home Improvement Agency Awards.

Last year it carried out nearly 650 jobs in Fenland, visiting about 275 households, mainly those of elderly or vulnerable people – those aged 60 or over, registered disabled or suffering long-term ill health. It helps them to live independently and safely in their own homes.

Common tasks include minor plumbing and electrical repairs, putting up shelves and curtains, small paint jobs, laying concrete slabs, repairing fences and cleaning gutters. The scheme also covers West Norfolk and Breckland.

Most of the work in Fenland is done by Nigel Grant. Recently he and a colleague, Paul Collins, were at Sonia Overton’s home in Whittlesey, building half-steps at the front and back of the house to give safe access into her home. Previous tasks carried out there include installing a new kitchen floor, lagging an outside pipe that had frozen and replacing a toilet seat.

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Mrs Overton said: “They made an absolutely super job of the kitchen floor and while they were doing it, they also repaired a leak they found on the washing machine.

“Mostly they haven’t been big jobs but they’re things I can’t do for myself. And it makes such a difference to have someone you’re happy to have in your home.”

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Another woman, from March, who didn’t want to be named, has used the service several times, having smoke alarms fitted, taps mended and gutters cleared.

She said: “The service has been fantastic and Nigel was very kind and caring when my husband was very seriously ill. He’s just a really nice person.”

Such comments are typical, according to Keith Mawson, the Handyperson service manager. “Feedback from clients has been overwhelmingly positive,” he said. ”People welcome the opportunity to call upon a reliable and trustworthy handyperson for whom no job is too small or too much trouble.”

Until a few months ago the service was fully subsidised, meaning that it could be provided free to all clients.

However, in April the subsidy was reduced and now a charge has to be made: it costs �20 per hour for those aged 60 or over, registered disabled or suffering long-term ill health, and �40 for all others.

FDC is now actively seeking to identify further funding to support the scheme.

Councillor Kit Owen, FDC’s portfolio holder responsible for housing, said: “Unfortunately, there are a lot of cowboys around in this kind of work and elderly or vulnerable people are often their victims. That’s why we encourage people to use this service, which is fully regulated and is very good value for money.

“They can have absolute trust in its staff, who have a well-earned reputation for honesty, reliability and friendliness.”

• For more details, contact Care & Repair on 01553 616371.

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