Borrow a bloke to help with those DIY jobs

Amanda Marshall's resident man-about-the-house might be a dab hand at DIY, but with his own business to run and work as a college lecturer he is always pushed for time.

Little jobs like changing a light fitting or putting up shelves have to wait until he can fit them in to his busy schedule.

Amanda has come up a creative solution to the problem faced by hundreds of others like her by launching her own business, Borrow-a-Bloke.

Amanda, of Grasmere Road, Blackpool, has recruited a team of tried-and-tested handymen to send out to householders to carry out minor repairs or DIY jobs.

Former children's nanny Amanda, who moved to Blackpool with partner Simon Fitzpatrick and children Charlie, eight, and Willem, five, 18 months ago, said: "Simon used to work shifts and it could be difficult for him to find the time to get the little jobs done that I couldn't manage myself.

"I can change a plug, Simon showed me how, but I can't put up a shelf or drill straight, and putting up a new light fitting is beyond me. I know from my own experience how hard it is to find someone who is prepared to do very small, niggly jobs, that we can't do ourselves or just don't have time to do.

"For single mums, the elderly or disabled it is really difficult."

Amanda has spent months putting together a team of semi-skilled handymen, all with Criminal Records Board clearance, who she can send out on jobs, booked and logged through her, on an hourly basis.

Amanda provides a quote, 30 for the first hour then 10 for the next hour, and suggests to potential clients that they put together enough little tasks to fill the time.

"There is no point in someone going in just to change a plug, so if they have other things that need doing, inside or out, they should ask about those and get them done at the same time to get the best value for money."

Borrow-a-Bloke is already catching on. They've rescued an elderly lady accidentally locked in her home, put up shelves, curtain track and pictures, changed washers and unblocked sinks.

"For the lady who was locked in we were able to get into the house, and replace the lock before we left so that she was completely secure," said Amanda.

"My team range from men in their 20s to those who are semi-retired. They are not qualified tradesmen but they are good handymen and fully insured," added Amanda. "We don't do anything that needs a qualfied tradesman, like central heating boilers or gas."

She said that most of her customers so far have been elderly or disabled. "There are also women with husbands who are "useless" at DIY, that's their word not mine, or who are just too busy!" said Amanda, who also works as a dinner lady at St John Vianney School, where her children are pupils.

Her partner Simon, runs a media company and lectures part-time at Blackpool and The Fylde College.

With Simon's help she has come up with a

corporate look for her workforce but it was she who chose its name.

"I wanted something to make people smile," she said.

Find out more on 0788 882 973.