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Ipswich workers power on through Christmas Day to keep the lights on

While many are cooking their Christmas dinner and unwrapping presents from under the tree, Ipswich power workers will be working round the clock to ensure the day goes without a hitch.

From News & press - 20 December 2018 12:00 AM

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UK Power Networks owns and maintains the overhead lines, underground cables and substations which distribute electricity to 8.3million customers across the East of England, London and the South East.

James Mack’s role is to send engineers to fix any power cuts that happen, including over the festive season, from his office at Fore Hamlet, Ipswich. He said: “This will be the seventh consecutive Christmas Day I have worked so I suppose I take it in my stride now, I don’t really mind at all. I am working in the morning and will finish at 2pm. From there I will drive down to my parents in Kent who are delaying Christmas dinner for my arrival! The positive thing about working on Christmas Day is that you know you can make a big contribution to power going back on as quickly and safely as possible, for people on a day they won’t want to be without electricity.”

Mark Noble who also works at Fore Hamlet, has chosen to hold his own Christmas celebrations on a different day. Mark said: “I will be working in the afternoon so have arranged a day in London with my girlfriend away from Christmas Day, where we will mark the occasion together instead.”

Sandra Crane, another dispatcher for UK Power Networks, has worked Christmas Day a number of times since joining the firm in 2004 so is well-practiced at fitting in family time around it. She said: “The last time I wasn’t down to work Christmas I was ill and missed it anyway! I am working until 2pm on Christmas Day this year after that I will headed off to visit my eight grandchildren across Ipswich so it could be a late Christmas dinner.”

Tania Mpofu, who works as a customer service advisor, starts her Christmas Day shift at 10pm in the evening going through to 6am on Boxing Day, but is happy that will still leave time for a family Christmas beforehand at her Ipswich home. Tania said: “I will be with two of my three children for Christmas Day and they’re really excited about it. We’ll have a big dinner about 2pm and I will enjoy the day then head to work later on! I worked Christmas Day last year, too, and don’t mind it. I love everything about my job because I’m a chatty, bubbly character and there are a lot of opportunities to talk to people as we help answer their questions.”

Joe De-Rosa, Justine Allison and Sam Cook will also be working in the company’s service delivery centre in Ipswich over Christmas.

More than 1.6million customers have signed up the company’s Priority Services Register which provides people in vulnerable circumstances with free extra help during power cuts, such as hot meals, home visits and hotel accommodation. This support and advice is aimed at older people, families with young children and people who depend on electrical equipment to help them manage specific health conditions.

Investment of over £500 million a year has enabled UK Power Networks to reduce power cuts year on year with supplies 99.9% reliable. A property in London, the East or South East is without power on average for just over half-an-hour each year, a 48% improvement on 2010/11 when the average duration was 64 minutes.

UK Power Networks will have several thousand engineers on standby from December 22 to January 1, ready to fix any power cuts quickly and safely over the festive period. Plus, all 6,000 staff have ‘storm roles’, with around 1,000 staff trained to answer customer calls. The company monitors the long range weather forecast closely and is on the Energy Networks Association’s winter resilience committee.

To apply to join UK Power Networks’ Priority Services Register visit www.ukpowernetworks.co.uk/priority, ring 0800 169 9970, or email psr@ukpowernetworks.co.uk

In the event of a power cut see www.ukpowernetworks.co.uk from a mobile device or ring 105.