GALLERY: No Christmas for the Angels

FIVE women – owed up to �1,000 each when a care agency closed – turned up on their former boss’ doorstep demanding to know when they would get paid.

They are part of a larger group of ex-workers having to tell their children it could be a tough Christmas.

Gail McCourt, spokeswoman for the carers, said: “The girls are very, very angry. Our holidays have been ruined.

“It has been a real downer and some of the workers have had to sit down with their children and tell them they are not going to get any Christmas presents.”

On Tuesday, I accompanied the five – from the Ely, March and Wisbech area – as they visited the gated �250,000 detached home in Littleport of their former boss, Lisa Dews.

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I spoke to Mrs Dews, listed as one of two directors of Angel Care Ltd, and asked if she would be willing to meet the group.

She insisted: “I cannot talk about it as I have a solicitor involved” and hurriedly closed the door.

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Her solicitor, Michael Judkins, of Ward Gethin Archer of Ely, said: “The company at the moment is not able to pay. There will be procedures where they will be paid. The company has ceased trading. It was forced into this situation.”

He said the workers – the group believe there could be up to 20 could be owed money – have received letters from Mrs Dews.

The letter said: “Unfortunately, given the events that have taken place, there are no funds held at present by Angel Care from which the final portion of your salary can be met.”

She warned the company was to be wound up and staff could apply to the Government to obtain any money owed to them.

“We will endeavour to assist you by supplying or making reference to the forms that will be required for this purpose,” she wrote.

“I am sure that you will understand my position and would ask, in the meantime, that you do not visit me at my home or communicate other than in writing.”

However, this assurance has failed to quell the mounting anger of former Angel Care support workers who are owed between �300 and �1,200 before tax for the hours they worked from October 14-31.

They claim director Mrs Dews has reneged on her promise to pay them on November 30.

Angel Care, based at Lancaster Way Business Park, Ely, closed after losing a contract with Cambridgeshire County Council.

The company provided domiciliary home care for older people. It lost the contract as part of a rationalisation process.

Some of the carers have transferred to the company that won the council contract but even so have been forced to borrow money because their next pay cheque is not due until December 28.

They said it was the first time they had ever had to borrow money and they felt humiliated having to ask family and friends to help them out

Ms McCourt said that during the second half of October the support workers were expected to do significant overtime, with one carer working 103 hours over two weeks while other colleagues did more than 50-hour weeks.

Hannah Moulding, a fellow support worker, said: “We support vulnerable people of all ages, many of whom can’t get out of bed and are dependent on us.

“Mrs Dews would pull on your heart-strings, demand more and more hours from you.

“We care about our patients and knew we could never say no to her and not look after them.”

Mrs McCourt said: “There are no words to describe her. She should never be able to work in care again.

“It feels like we have had the life drained out of us. We are numb,”

Bethany Daplyn, 21, the youngest of the carers, said: “We don’t know how she can sleep at night.”

A county council spokesman said all money owed to Angel Care at the time the contract ended had been handed over.

Mr Judkins last night provided copy of a ‘draft letter’ proposed for workers which tells them the company “will very shortly be placed in formal liquidation”.

An insolvency expert is to be appointed to enable staff to “recover payment from the National Insurance Fund.”

In the meantime Mr Judkins has asked disaffected staff “to kindly refrain contact” with Mrs Dews.

Later Mr Judkins issued a further statement insisting that his client had “every intention that the employees would be paid when working the final two weeks”

He said the vast majority of carers appear to have understood the situation and Lisa convened a meeting last Friday to meet her former staff face to face so as to keep them informed.

“Those turning up yesterday are it seems a small handful of the total and did so despite being asked not to attend at my client’s home, which it is felt was a fair request to have made considering she is there with a small baby,” he said.

He said the county council “have acknowledged that there is an on-going dialogue about monies still owed to Angel Care.

“It is also by reason of other sums not paid to the company that the cash flow difficulty resulting in this situation arose.”

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