BBC answers Manchester veterans’ DIY SOS call for groundbreaking new project

The BBC DIY SOS team will join some of the UK’s best known constructions firms on a site in East Manchester today to develop the first stage of a veterans’ community by bringing empty homes back into use.

A first of its kind partnership, the project is bringing together Manchester City Council, the BBC’s DIY SOS Big Build project, charities Walking With The Wounded and Haig Housing, plus Adactus Housing Groups.

During this first phase, eight of the street’s empty homes will be refurbished to create three larger adapted residential homes for veterans and their families, one standard size property and a veteran walk-in support and advice centre – all by the end of September.

At the same time, street scene improvements will provide disabled access, a planting scheme will be introduced, and each of the 62 properties on the street will receive a facelift – ready for a group of veterans and their families to move in at the end of the month.

Veterans, who with help from Walking With The Wounded have been re-trained in construction trades, will also be part of the building team.

The aim of the project is to create a veterans’ housing community within the existing community, the advice centre will have a private space for therapy and counselling – run by Walking With The Wounded – and be accessible for community use.

Training and employment opportunities are being developed for veterans and existing residents.

A huge amount of support has already been volunteered by major contractors, including: lead contractor, Kier; supply chain lead, ISG; empty home refurbishment lead, Wates Living Space; street-scaping lead, Wilmott Dixon; architects Bernard Taylor Partnership; principal designer, Arcus Consulting; Mears; Rowlinsons; and Keepmoat.

In addition, many suppliers, utilities and smaller specialist companies have come forward to help on what is the Beeb’s biggest ever DIY SOS project.

Despite the generosity of local firms, the project is still seeking supply and labour contributions from the construction industry, and to develop a legacy on-going veteran training and employment opportunities are sought from employers.

Nick Knowles, the BBC DIY SOS presenter, said: “We couldn’t have done this without the amazing support of all these trades. The enormous amount of help – in time, materials, labour and much more- is a tribute to our nation’s building industry.”

Completed properties will offer opportunities for veterans to get on the housing ladder with options including shared equity, discount purchase and rent to buy. 

Cllr Bernard Priest, Deputy Leader of Manchester City Council, said: “This is an incredible project that will help improve the lives of veterans in Manchester. As the project begins, I would like to thank all of the contractors and suppliers who have volunteered their time, expertise and manpower to make the new community a reality.” 

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