Disabled Sheffield pensioner 'living on brown bread' five days after management company rips out kitchen

A disabled Sheffield pensioner fears she is facing ‘weeks’ without facilities after a management company pulled out her kitchen on Monday.

Monday, 5th July 2021, 6:47 am

Mrs Gail Hawkins, aged 70, says she has been ‘living off brown bread and bottled water’ since management company Places For People arrived to renovate her kitchen at her rented two-bedroom home on Monday, June 28.

But she fears she and her neighbours in Beckton Avenue, Waterthorpe, are facing weeks of hardship without a place to cook or clean after reaching the end of the first week of work with ‘no progress’.

She lays the blame at Places for Peoples’ management who are reportedly restricting how much work any of their contractors can do in a day citing health and safety rules.

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Gail Hawkins from Waterthorpe has been left without a kitchen. Picture Scott Merrylees

“It’s a complete nightmare,” said Mrs Hawkins. “It’s left us with no facilities.

"Much of my estate have had their kitchens pulled out too to start work and will be in the same situation without being able to cook properly or have water. If I’m struggling I can only imagine what it must be like for a mum-of-two.”

Places for People, a property management company offering social housing, said in a statement that the kitchen would be complete by July 9. They have provided a temporary sink and an electric two-ring stove.

The housing provider is updating kitchens in its homes across the Waterthorpe area.

But contractors are reportedly made to work to a limit set by hand arm vibration indicator watches (HAVi), a specialist device that monitors how much stress power tools are causing to a worker’s wrists and joints.

They are used by some workforces to reduce the impact of manual work on contractors’ limbs, which can lead to painful conditions like white finger and carpal tunnel in later life.

The system has been criticised as placing the onus on contractors to perform less work when hand-arm vibration damage can be reduced by providing better quality tools and routine breaks.

According to Mrs Hawkins, it means the workmen at her house have been ‘frustrated’ at being required to only complete a limited part of the job before having to put tools down for the day.

At the end of a week of work, the pensioner claims her home has only seen its kitchen ripped out and some electrical work done.

She fears it will take ‘weeks’ before her and her neighbours return to a normal standard of living.

She said: “I’m not having a go at the workmen. They seem frustrated at having to stop too.

“It’s the attitude of the management that we just have to do without for who knows how long.

“You would think if a workman has to stop then someone would be ready to take over the job. That would make sense, but they don’t.

“The people who make these decisions don’t have to live with how it means people go without a place to cook.”

A spokesperson for Places for People apologised for the disruption to the pensioner’s home and said: “We are in regular contact with Ms Hawkins to ensure she has the support and amenities that she needs while the works are completed. All health and safety guidelines are being followed to ensure the safety of our customers and colleagues.”

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