Older people in the United Kingdom may be less likely to be the victim of crime than other age groups, but they can often be targeted by so-called ‘rogue traders’ or contractors. This might be because older people are more likely to have access to savings, and also that as we age, we might not be able to do all the odd jobs around the home that we used to do. As a result older people rely on others more; whether that is help from family, friends and neighbors or is a paid for service from an independent contractor. Sometimes this reliance can make older people feel vulnerable. Being the victim of a contractor whose work is of poor quality or, worse, where money is paid out and the work is not carried out at all, is of concern to many older people and caregivers. There is also the concern about letting a stranger into the house if the older person is frail or vulnerable.
As a result Age UK London developed the local Age UK Business Directory. It is an online, one-stop directory developed specifically for older people. The Directory aims to make life easier for thousands of older people, their caregivers, family or friends in London who are be looking for products or services tailored to their needs.
While the directory doesn’t explicitly recommend any of the companies listed on the site, there are checks and balances which help provide peace of mind to users. Firstly it carries out a set of due diligence checks to make sure the companies are reputable, and secondly users of the site are also able to rate and provide feedback online about companies they have used and products they have provided.
To find a contractor the user simply goes to www.aubdlondon.co.uk and enters the trade or service needed plus the postal code of where they live. The directory will search for relevant contractors who have been through the checks carried out by Age-UK Staff. These include; signing up to a customer charter, evidence of correct qualifications and trade and customer references.
For older people who cannot get online, the directory also operates a telephone hotline where someone will make the search on their behalf. It also allows users to write or phone in their reviews.
The directory is a social enterprise which aims to pay for itself over time. Contractors who sign up to advertise on the site and feature on the directory pay an annual fee. This allows the service to be free to the user. Age UK is a well-known and trusted brand in the UK and it is good business for the contractor to be associated with it. The directory was originally started by Age UK in Nottingham and is now being rolled out in English cities and regions including London.
about the author
Sam Mauger is the Chief Executive of Age UK London. She has worked in the Age Sector for 18 years with both Age UKs and in partnership with many other voluntary organisations across London. She is currently one of two Deputy Chairs of the Age England Association, which works with Age UKs throughout England she is the Co-Chair of the London Voluntary Sector Forum, a post that she has held for the past four years. Sam is involved as Chair of Healthwatch City of London and sits on the City of London Health and Wellbeing Board. She is a trustee of LASA and Westminster Arts and a volunteer mediator at Common Ground.
She has degrees and post graduate qualifications in Law, Management and Voluntary Sector Studies as well as being awarded an Associate of the Chartered institute of Banking early on in her career. She is currently undertaking a post graduate certificate in mediation.