Suffolk Housing offers a helping hand to vulnerable and elderly tenants with DIY and home maintenance

Suffolk Housing offers a helping hand to vulnerable and elderly tenants with DIY and home maintenance

Vulnerable and elderly tenants at two of Suffolk Housing’s sheltered schemes are now getting a helping hand with simple DIY and home maintenance thanks to the generosity of their community-minded neighbours.

Pictured above from left to right are Carmen St John (Contracts Manager with Foster Property Maintenance) and Nick Carter (Volunteer Handyman), Mark Rawson (Site Manager with Foster Property Maintenance) and John Craig (Contracts Manager with Foster Property Maintenance).

Three tenants at Apple Tree Close and The Venlaw, in Kirkley Park Road, Lowestoft, have signed up to become volunteer handymen, and will complete a wide range of easy jobs on behalf of neighbours who are unable to do so themselves. This could include changing lightbulbs or fuses, installing new doorbell batteries, testing smoke detectors, bleeding radiators and putting up shelves.

The initiative has sprung from Suffolk Housing’s extensive tenant participation programme, which encourages residents to get involved in the way the services they receive are provided. As well empowering tenants to take a proactive approach to looking after their neighbourhood, it is hoped the scheme will also reduce management costs and repair bills for Suffolk Housing so that savings can be reinvested elsewhere.

Martin Barnes-Smith, Corporate and Community Services Manager with Suffolk Housing, said: “We are really pleased to launch these innovative new schemes, which are empowering our tenants and encouraging them to take pride in their neighbourhood.

“The initiatives offer the volunteers the chance to give back to their community while learning new skills, which they can go on to use in other areas of their lives. We hope that it will help to further strengthen community spirit at these schemes while also inspiring others to come forward as volunteers and make a difference.

“Like any landlord, we expect our tenants to take responsibility for carrying out day-to-day maintenance and small DIY tasks which keep their homes in good repair. It’s fantastic that we’ve been able to train these dedicated volunteers to help out those people who are unable to do the work themselves and would otherwise have needed to hire a tradesman to complete these minor projects.”

Foster Property Maintenance, which is Suffolk Housing’s maintenance contractor, has supported the initiative by donating tools to the handymen. The company will continue to carry out any larger repairs.

Carmen St John, Contracts Manager, said: “We at Foster were more than happy to support this project as we felt it helped to provide a gap in the current service that was needed by those who couldn’t carry out these basic tasks themselves.

“It was great to meet the residents who have so selflessly decided to give up their time to help others and could see so many benefits this would create for both them and those they help. The sense of community at these sites is clearly evident.”

In addition, fellow Suffolk Housing tenant Kevan Doxey has become a volunteer caretaker at a general needs scheme in Dandalan Close in Ipswich. He regularly checks the communal areas are spic and span while also reporting any issues or repairs to Fosters so that they can be completed.

Both initiatives are currently running on a trial basis but will be rolled out across some of Suffolk Housing’s other schemes should they prove a success.


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