A CARE firm from Blackpool is bucking the trend - and experiencing massive growth.
At a time when troubled care home provider Southern Cross is making the news for all the wrong reasons, Safehands – which operates care businesses for the young, elderly and disabled – has recorded huge growth after opening four nurseries this year and opening a disabled-friendly hotel.
Last month, the firm trained more than 20 people as carers and is averaging across its centres 24 new staff a month.
Managing director Gary Farrer (pictured) said: “There’s no other companies like us. We look after people from cradle to grave.
“Most care firms focus on one particular area but we are always looking ahead.”
As well as its seven nurseries – including one below its head office in Blackpool Football Club’s Bloomfield Road stadium – the firm operates corporate and private babysitting services, mobile creche facilities, school services for disabled children, hotel babysitting services, social care, and now a hotel.
The firm was the brainchild of entrepreneur Stephanie Farrer who started the business from her box room and has never looked back.
Mr Farrer added: “My wife launched this business with five pounds 14 years ago and worked in our box room after finishing her day job with the council.
“We moved here without any family or friends to call on as babysitters so Stephanie started recruiting them. Three years later she was advertising for them in 52 different areas.
“We looked at hotel care as well. In days of old the receptionist would listen out and have to distinguish between a gurgle of delight or a baby gurgling to death – and what would happen if the fire alarms went off and your room was five floors up?
“Stephanie is always planning things five years ahead. She says we’re doing this and then it’s up to us to find a way of doing it.”
The firm has agreed or renewed contracts to supply babysitting services to hotel chains De Vere, Copthorne and Hilton among others – totalling 850 hotels across the country.”
And despite difficult trading conditions across the UK, the firm is flourishing with big plans for further expansion in the immediate future.
Mr Farrer added: “To be going into the hotel industry when we have is a real leap of faith but we have done it properly.
“Why shouldn’t older or disabled people enjoy hotels as comfortable as everyone else?
“We’ve even bought a Mercedes Sprinter van to bring them to the hotel.
“But if you can make it in Blackpool, you can make it anywhere.”
n For an in-depth look into the new Safe Hands hotel, see tomorrow’s Gazette.