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Bromley man encourages his community to join free priority services register 

Monday 13th July 2020 13:00

Mitchell Sterne being presented with a scale model crane infront of Emerson delivery truck

A young man with learning disabilities is encouraging people in Bromley to sign up to a free register to get extra help at home should their water supply be interrupted after striking up a new friendship with Thames Water contractors.

Mitchell Sterne, 21, and his family met engineers working outside his home from specialist lifting company Emerson when they were delivering an 8 ton crane to Thames Water’s Shortlands pumping station. 

The large delivery truck and crane attracted Mitchell’s attention, resulting in the team giving him and his parents an overview of the lifting operation and talking him through the work involved.

After seeing how fascinated Mitchell was with the crane, the Emerson team have agreed to give him a tour of their depot when lockdown restrictions have eased and presented him with a scale model. 

Mitchell’s mum, Nicola Sterne, said: “It was the biggest smile I have seen Mitchell have on his face, as he has been in lockdown from March due to his illnesses. Mitchell is so happy with the model crane, he loves it.”

Thames Water has since contacted the family and signed them up to the company’s free Priority Services Register – a database of customers who would struggle to get by should their home’s water supply be interrupted.  

In such circumstances, priority service customers are contacted by Thames Water’s care team for bottled water deliveries directly to their homes if they are unable to get to a collection hub. The system also gives them advanced warning of planned work which may risk an interruption to their water supply.  

The Sterne family are now sharing their experience and informing the community at Mitchell’s school and their housing association about the help available for people with chronic illnesses or mobility issues, who may need that extra support from Thames Water. 

Tania Christie, partnership coordinator at Thames Water, said: “Mitchell is an extraordinary young man who won the hearts of our engineers while they were working outside his house. I wanted him to know that while our engineers do their best to keep the taps running, we can also do our best to look after him and his family when things go wrong. 

“I wanted to make sure Mitchel and his family benefit from our Priority Services, and we support them in every way possible. Mitchell can now tell his friends at school about Thames Water engineers, and make his whole community aware of how they can benefit from a friendship such as ours.” 

Daniel Roberts, key account manager at Emerson, said: “This certainly left those involved at Emerson with a great feeling. It was so nice to see Mitchell’s interest and we’re looking forward to welcoming him to our depot once the social distancing restrictions have eased.”

Commenting on the fantastic way the Emerson team communicated with Mitchell, Nicola added: “They were excellent with Mitchell and he loved them talking to him about the crane. There are a lot of people that do not understand people with special needs, but they did and it was nice that they had so much time for him. It really helped Mitchell a lot by communicating with them.”

Thames Water has 83,000 customers on its Priority Services Register and plans to increase it to 410,000 by 2025.

Customers can find out if they qualify for the Priority Services Register and sign up by visiting Thames Water Priority Services or calling 0800 009 3652.