Estates Caretaker, Karl Howard, has been a member of our team for 33 years, having started at LYHA in 1985. During that time he has worked at pretty much all our sites across Yorkshire, from Whitby to Settle and from Barnsley to Leeds. So, who better to give us an insight into his working day at LYHA?
I originally started as a gardener, but nowadays I do both cleaning and gardening. Back then there were only 15 members of staff and we owned a lot less properties. Many of them looked very different too: estates, such as the Elmetes, St Mary’s, St Ann’s and Wood Lane Court all had flat roofs.
One of the biggest changes over the years has been mechanisation - we now have hedge trimmers instead of sheers and leaf blowers rather than rakes – making lots of parts of my job easier. However, I’ve also seen negative changes too. There’s now more dog fouling and far more fly tipping than there used to be, which is really time consuming for the estates team to deal with.
I usually start at 7.30 in summer and 8.30 in winter. I come into the office first and load up the van. Different seasons mean different jobs. At the moment we’re doing lots of pruning hedges and shifting leaves, but in summer there’s far more grass cutting. I try to visit all the estates I look after once a fortnight and group the nearby ones together. However, I’ll also look at the weather forecast in advance and decide which days to do my inside cleaning jobs, such as vacuuming, dusting and glass cleaning in the communal areas.
Winter tends to be our quieter time and it’s a time to catch up on some of the bigger jobs, such as tree pruning. But it can also mean bad weather. We can end up doing a lot of snow shifting, particularly around our properties where we have lots of pensioners or vulnerable people.
I bring a packed lunch with me as I’m out and about all day. No two days are the same and you’ve got to be flexible in this job, as plans often change. However, I do get real job satisfaction. I enjoy being outside and the great thing about gardening is that you get to see results fast.