Handyman pilot project launched for Kirkcaldy area tenants and residents

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Kirkcaldy area tenants and homeowners can soon take advantage of a brand new pilot programme offering handyman services to people who need it most.

Homeowners, private tenants and council tenants alike will soon be able to submit requests to the Community Trade Hub's pilot service - covering everything from putting furniture together to installing shelving and more.

Kirkcaldy Area committee councillors agreed to invest £80,000 in the service on Tuesday despite some reservations from members.

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The programme will send out trainees alongside skilled professionals to help with whatever the job calls for. Council officers ran a six week community survey just after the pandemic and have worked tirelessly with partners and private organisations since.

The service launches as a pilot in Kirkcaldy after councillors gave it the green light (Pic: Pixabay)The service launches as a pilot in Kirkcaldy after councillors gave it the green light (Pic: Pixabay)
The service launches as a pilot in Kirkcaldy after councillors gave it the green light (Pic: Pixabay)

“Findings identified a clear need and want for a handy person service with the majority of people responding stating they would use this service,” a committee report states. “Different services, residents and tenants have also promoted the need for this type of trusted, reliable, accessible, and affordable service.”

They said the service will also boost the work experience and skills of the trainee workforce.

However, Councillor Kathleen Leslie (Conservative for Burntisland, Kinghorn and Western Kirkcaldy) raised some concerns.

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“Is this not the sort of thing the council should be doing for its tenants?” she asked. “I’m supportive of the Community Trade Hub - I’ve been to Leven and have seen the fantastic work they’re doing there - but I suppose what I’m slightly concerned about is that it’ll be delivered by school pupils for the most part. [I’m concerned this] is getting young people to do [provide a service] for free.”

Councillor David Ross (Labour for Kirkcaldy North) also raised some concerns.

“I’m not convinced about the need for something like this, and I have some reservations about the multi-objectives of this. Providing service and providing training don’t necessarily fit together - but hopefully it will,” he added. “Having said that, I know the head of housing has endorsed this now. As far as being a test of change, I’m happy to go with that.”

Officers argued that the programme is not exclusively for council tenants - it’s for those in private rentals and ownership as well.

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“We will look to target people without the means [to do things themselves],” councillors were told. “We want to make sure we’re targeting people who need it most. We’ll do things like put shelves up, build furniture for people who don’t have that skill set and more. There’s an absolute gap in the market for this.”

Committee convener Ian Cameron (Labour for Kirkcaldy East) added: “We’re talking about 300 visits to deal with things in a year - that’s seven visits a day.”

He continued: “This is based on people asking for it. The survey results found it was really really needed, and the Community Trades Hub is well set up to deliver it. We’re trying to move it forward to make a difference.”

The pilot programme will operate for two years. If it’s successful and if there is sufficient need in the community, the council will look to expand it across Fife.

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The committee also allocated £45,000 for a communications and marketing officer for the Kirkcaldy area, and up to £25,000 for signage and interpretation boards for Burntisland Links - funding coming from the Community Recovery Fund.

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