A region-wide service for helping elderly, disabled, victims of domestic abuse or those with learning or mental health issues is celebrating its 10-year success story in 2014.
The HandyVan Service, set up in the east of the region in 2004 between Help the Aged (England) and Annandale and Eskdale Council for Voluntary Service, has now spread across to Galloway and further to amalgamation of Age Concern and Help the Aged in 2009, the HandyVan became funded via Dumfries and Galloway Council through Care and Repair.
Since its move from Lochmaben office premises to Lockerbie in November 2011, the D&G HandyVan/SRHSS has a more visible presence and referrals have
increased with almost 4,000 to date.
Services offered by the scheme include fitting of smoke alarms, door and window chains and locks, fixing leaky taps, putting up shelves, curtains and the like,
fitting grab rails, tacking down carpets and mucky jobs like gutter cleaning.
A tenant of private landlords or a home owner over 60 fitting any of the above critera would be eligible and can be referred by themselves, a neighbour, social services or carers, or by staff from many trusts and mental health teams or even by police or fire crews.
Volunteers are always sought to work alongside staff as the scheme struggles without them – volunteers were used on 55 jobs last year.
Jack McHugh is a HandyVan volunteer in the west. He said: “After moving to the Wigtownshire area I felt that finding voluntary work would allow me to get more involved in my new community and give myself an interest as I was no longer working. To achieve this I visited Volunteer Action where amongst the many voluntary jobs I found one that particularly suited me this was with the Handyvan Small repair Service, assisting the fitters. As I had spent the last10n years as a handyman it felt this could be just what I was looking for. This work allows me to keep using some of the skills I have built up over the years to help people who for various reasons are unable to complete small repairs and other small tasks around their home. It allows me to meet people and see areas of the community I would not have otherwise.
“I feel it’s a win win situation – the community has a service, the fitters have an assistant, and I personally have gained an interest to keep me busy.”
If you think you could offer a lending hand or if you think someone should be referred, contact the HandyVan Service on 0800 069 9173.