HandyVan spreading west

Paul and Stuart, handymen
Paul and Stuart, handymen

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 was set up in the east of the region in 2004 and has now spread across to Galloway following the introduction of funding from Dumfries and Galloway Council in 2009.

Following a move to new offices in Lochmaben in 2011, the service has sky-rocketed in popularity with almost 4,000 referrals made to date.

A tenant of private landlords or a home owner over 60 fitting any of the above critera are 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 I found a job that particularly suited me – with the service, assisting the fitters.

“As I had spent the last10 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.”

The service is funded to reach 600 tasks annually but has almost doubled this in recent years.