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‘Fulfilling a need’: Moray Handyperson Service faces challenges from lack of funding and volunteers

While the Moray Handyperson Service has been operating for 25 years, it faces more pressure than ever due to a lack of funding and volunteers.

The Moray Handyperson Service was first established in June 1997 and has since grown its network to over 1,300 clients across the Moray area.

Now the service faces major challenges over the lack of volunteers and funding to carry out the jobs they do.

The service has 44 volunteers that work on small DIY jobs for the most vulnerable in the community, from installing key safes and smoke alarms to washing and hanging curtains.

Moray Handyperson Service is also known for its personal toenail-trimming service, with over 300 customers needing treatment every six weeks.

These services, which may seem small, were crucial during the pandemic, with many clients confined to their homes and other services impacted by lockdown.

Funding is pared to the bone.

Malcolm Aldridge, manager at Moray Handyperson Service, spoke of the challenges that the organisation faces.

He said: “The main challenge we face year-on-year is funding.

“Even though we are well-established and proved to be a necessary service, which actually saves the NHS and local social services money, we still have to enter a bidding process for funding each year.

Volunteers at Moray Handyperson Service help vulnerable residents with DIY jobs such as TV repairs. Picture by Jason Hedges

“There is always that uncertainty and difficulty when it comes to funding streams, and even when we get the funding it is pared to the bone.”

“We did have a decent level of funding from the local authority, but then over the years that been pared back and so we started a social enterprise.”

The funding provided by the local health and social care partnership does not allow the service to acquire the necessary IT equipment and marketing for the service to run effectively.

Therefore the organisation charges a small fee for services such as wheelchair hire, which is needed due to the lack of a Red Cross presence in Elgin.

‘The service is absolutely vital’

Mr Aldridge says another challenge is to let people in the community know that the service is still available.

While they continued to provide handyman services during the pandemic, many of the volunteers are themselves retired or had vulnerable partners, and so many were unable to keep working.

Mr Aldridge added: “I would say that the service is absolutely vital. There is a huge need for this service in Moray.

“While a lot of local authorities have a care and repair service available to residents, but Moray have limited care and repair services that are just for council house tenants and is not available to everybody.

“We are fulfilling a need that is recognised across the whole country, but we are doing it as a voluntary organisation rather than a department within the local authority.”

Many of the clients that use the handyperson service are very happy with the service they provide, with Moray Council often referring people to them.

This year Moray Handyperson Service turns 25 and will be putting on an event in celebration of this milestone.

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