Last year over 9 million viewers tuned in to watch the Royal Television Society winning episodes of DIY SOS: Homes for Veterans, as an entire street in East Manchester received a facelift and 8 of the 25 empty homes on the street were refurbished for veterans by an amazing team of volunteers including Princes William and Harry.
This autumn Nick Knowles, the DIY SOS team, Haig Housing Trust and hundreds of volunteers are returning to Manchester’s Canada Street to turn the last empty house on the street into a family home within this now established veterans’ community – complete with access to support, education and training.
This bespoke final home is being delivered as part of this award winning development in east Manchester by the BBC’s DIY SOS team, Manchester City Council, charities Haig Housing Trust, Walking with The Wounded and key contractors Kier, Wates, Arcus, architects BTP plus hundreds of generous volunteer contractors and suppliers.
Since the programme aired last October on BBC One – receiving multiple broadcast and building awards – Haig Housing Trust, the UK’s largest provider of rental housing for veterans has been industrious renovating 15 derelict properties and filling them with veteran occupants, whilst Walking With The Wounded have supported not only the new residents but also other residents through their support hub – based right on the street.
The aim is to complete and integrate the veteran community within the existing community. The advice centre has a private space for therapy and counselling – run by Walking With The Wounded – and it also provides a space for the community. Training and employment opportunities are being developed for veterans and existing residents alike.
If you know of a military veteran family, with physical or psychological challenges, looking for quality housing in Manchester who would like to be part of the BBC’s DIY SOS Big Build for veterans this Autumn please contact the BBC direct on 01179 742173 or [email protected]. Alternatively, if you know of a volunteer tradesman or a company that would like to get involved in the 9 day build which starts Monday 31 October until Wednesday 9 November then please contact the BBC asap on email: [email protected]. And please keep an eye on the DIY SOS official twitter page www.twitter.com/diysos where a ‘call for trades’ will be broadcast closer to the build which starts Monday 31 October.
Nick Knowles, the BBC DIY SOS presenter, said: “After last year’s massive success I’m pleased we are returning to Manchester to carry on the legacy, supporting our Veterans.
“We couldn’t have wished for a warmer welcome from the people of Manchester and our partners who have chipped in to make this fantastic project possible. We’ve had everyone from builders, sparkies, labourers, volunteers and even royalty involved and now we’re looking for one more veteran and their family to turn our final house in to a home.
“We’ve done some brilliant builds down the years but this really is the end of the greatest project the DIY SOS team have carried out. It’ll certainly be a bittersweet moment when we close the door on the final home knowing we’ve built some superb houses, with the necessary support, employment and community services available to serve our veterans well in the years ahead.”
Haig Housing Trust CEO, James Richardson, said: “The Haig Housing Trust, which is celebrating its 100th birthday, is excited to be involved in this incredible project to regenerate housing and provide much needed affordable homes for veterans in Manchester.
“Haig Housing Trust, the UK’s leading charity for veterans accommodation, has, in between the BBC projects, refurbished fifteen derelict homes all of which are being let to veteran families in housing need. Haig is now working to offer low cost ownership options to veterans and secure the homes to help future generations.
“It has all been made possible through the support of Manchester City Council and Adactus who gifted the derelict homes and the BBC DIY SOS refurbished 10 of the 25 properties enabling the whole project. The Veterans’ Village is alive and vibrant thanks to huge cooperation.”
Edward Parker, CEO and Co-founder of Walking With the Wounded, said: “The DIY SOS partnership was a first of its kind and as a result of its success Walking With The Wounded has been able to launch all our services to veterans in the North West. As a result of the WWTW centre on the street residents are getting the training and employment opportunities they need in a veteran’s housing community within the existing community. We celebrate this unique partnership between public, private and charity sectors and urge anyone who might benefit from being part of this community to get in touch with the BBC.”
Cllr Bernard Priest, Deputy Leader of Manchester City Council, said: “Manchester City Council is committed to supporting veteran integration back into communities via the Armed Forces Covenant –this project has already offered the full range of support services to many veterans, whilst feeding into the wider regeneration ambitions for east Manchester.”
Update – 17 October 2016
This comprehensive project involved restoring and refurbishing two streets of empty and dilapidated properties on Newton Heath. We have now taken handover of all but the three last remaining properties. The remaining properties are due for completion on 24/10/16, with the final BBC property being ready for handover to our new tenant on 09/11/16.
In the meantime the project was nominated and won the regeneration project of the year award for the RICS North West regional. The project was also put forward to the National awards last Friday for regeneration project of the year. Although on this occasion our project did not win it was recognised by the judging panel which stated “We commended the project team, which involved multiple local contractors and tradesmen — who volunteered their time and materials at an estimated worth of £2 million — to create quality homes designed to suit the needs of veterans, including those with disabilities.”
I am not sure if this can be replicated nationally but the project demonstrates that small providers within the G320 group working in collaboration with partners and stakeholders can produce excellent results.