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Alan Long: Why our work is essential to help this national effort

Alan Long: Why our work is essential to help this national effort

In Alan's blog, he talks about the essential work our colleagues are doing up and down the country to make homes habitable during this difficult time.

First of all, let me start by thanking everyone for their hard work during this difficult period.

A few weeks ago, we were thinking about the clocks going forward, the first glimmer of spring. Now the world feels like a very different place. It is more confusing – for all of us.

We wait on Government briefings whilst looking after loved ones and plan how to get our weekly shop done. Mears colleagues have gone a step further. They have carried on with their jobs when others have stayed at home.

As I have read on Connect some colleagues are asking why we are still at work and whether they are in danger of catching or spreading the virus. I want to set use this opportunity to explain why we are doing what we are doing.

As one of the country’s largest repairs and maintenance providers, it is crucial we ensure that they are able to live in homes that are in good repair.

First of all, health and safety is the most important thing. We have asked Government to ensure that we have the right supplies of PPE. Unfortunately, we have heard many of our orders have been diverted for use by the NHS, which is why I felt it necessary to speak out on BBC News yesterday to appeal for help. We are also asking the Government urgently to support us in this.

We continue to ask that all colleagues observe the rules on social distancing and take every precaution by washing hands and staying apart from customers. Despite the delay in orders we still have enough PPE to go around.

But why go into someone’s home at all? People – especially the most vulnerable have been told to shield themselves from harm and this could be for up to 3 months or more. As one of the country’s largest repairs and maintenance providers, it is crucial we ensure that they are able to live in homes that are in good repair.

Why are we going into voids? Government has ordered local authorities to house all street homeless people and are also ensuring there is adequate housing stock for those escaping from domestic violence or for whatever reason are unable to stay at home.

Another frequent question is why we are ignoring the Government’s advice and are going on as normal. Well this isn’t Government guidance and our work certainly isn’t normal. All those who can work from home should but those who are essential should still go in. And I want to be really clear about this – your work is essential.

We simply cannot leave people without heating, gas, electricity or water. But what is essential is much much broader. Mending a light switch might not seem essential at the time but for someone who is going to be living in that space for a very long time without the luxury of going out it could make a real difference, especially if that person is elderly or in poor sight and can’t see properly to get around the house.

We have also written to the Government to offer our help in any way they need us. We have a large fleet spread across the country which, if not in use, could help with deliveries. We have a large procurement capability to help support what the Government or NHS needs. And we have all of you who would wish to help out.

We have also written to the Government to offer our help in any way they need us.

Many of you will have differing circumstances and I want you to talk to line managers, who will be understanding. We will try to accommodate all issues where we can. Please keep on communicating with us and telling us how you are. It’s never been more important.

This is our chance to make a difference and to pull together to help the national cause. Last week the nation clapped for NHS workers which was great. But if they knew that you were all out there during this difficult time, then they would clap your efforts as well.

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