As part of our celebration of the key role utilities workers are playing in the coronavirus response, we feature the work being done for the community by Cadent staff.

Around 30 staff from the gas distributor donated goods and cash to Birmingham’s Narthex Sparkhill Foodbank.

The appeal was organised by frontline emergency engineer Habib Rehman.

Habib, a First Call Operative from Erdington, was overwhelmed by the response from his colleagues. Together with manager John Capper, he delivered a Cadent van full of donated groceries to the foodbank.

“I’m so grateful to everyone for their generosity,” said Habib, “colleagues from across Birmingham dug deep to help out. I also received donations from a neighbour and a friend, whose mum died of Covid-19.

“The foodbank was really appreciative. Their supplies were running quite low, so our delivery arrived at just the right time. It’s good to know that we’re helping those most in need at this difficult time.”

Kate Jones, Cadent’s director of West Midlands Network, said: “This is a fantastic effort by Habib and his colleagues across Birmingham. It’s typical of the response of our staff to the Covid-19 pandemic – they have been quick to help the most vulnerable.”

In response to Utility Week’s Keeping Us Connected campaign, Cadent also highlighted the decision by some engineers to put off their retirement to help with the response to coronavirus.

First-call operatives (FCO) Mike Aldridge and Alan Brown are both 58 and due to retire this year after over 80 years’ service between them – but have decided to keep on working instead.

“We don’t know how many of our engineers this will impact, so it just didn’t seem right me going ahead with retirement,” said Mike, who covers a patch including Stockport, Tameside and High Peak. “Also, if I did retire, I’d probably just be at home, self-isolating, so I’d much rather be out there – as long as I am fit and healthy – keeping myself busy and helping customers keep safe.”

Alan, part of Cadent’s team covering the Lake District area, added: “If a few of the FCOs get this, it would put a strain on resources. So, I’ve decided it’s right that I put off retirement for now and help out. It’ll keep me busy and means we can help keep people warm in their homes.”

Keeping Us Connected is a new series from Utility Week in which we highlight the achievements of employees across the utilities sector in getting the UK through lockdown. To nominate a member of your team for recognition, please email jameswallin@fav-house.com.

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