Former homeless people in Cromer show off their new-look house

Genesis Housing Association staff and Cabbell Road, Cromer, residents at the Open Day. Front row, fr

Genesis Housing Association staff and Cabbell Road, Cromer, residents at the Open Day. Front row, from left: Min Cheng (resident), Drew Martin (enhanced service co-ordinator), Paul O'Neill (resident) and Mark Neale (resident). Back: Maureen Clarke (service manager), Viv Dalby (support assistant), Duncan Young (resident) and Lee Ellis (support worker). Picture: ALEX HURRELL - Credit: Archant

Former homeless adults threw wide the door of their new-look house and invited the community to an Open Day.

The residents of Cromer's Cabbell Road have spent the past six months redecorating and refurnishing their home, and learning how to cook.

Guests, including North Norfolk MP Norman Lamb, dropped-in on Friday to admire the handiwork of those at number seven Cabbell Road, and sample residents' home-cooked goodies, made using skills learned through the organisation Joy of Food.

Numbers seven, 24 and 26 Cabbell Road are owned by London-based Genesis Housing Association and provide supported homes for 25 single, homeless adults for two years while helping them to become independent, achieve their goals, and move to their own accommodation.

Genesis's charitable arm has ploughed £15,000 into the Pride in Your Scheme project which saw residents meet to choose furniture, flooring, outside decking, curtains, and ornaments, and decide on colour schemes before tackling the re-decoration work themselves.

Maureen Clarke, Genesis's service manager for west and north Norfolk, said the project had given residents' new practical and social skills, motivation, and a sense of community, ending isolation. Some now volunteered at the town's foodbank.

Resident Paul O'Neil, 44, was an enthusiastic decorator at number seven.

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'The house was very dull and not very welcoming but it's come on in leaps and bounds in the last six months. It's more like a 'home' now - very comfortable,' said Mr O'Neill who was homeless for about two years which he spent 'sofa-surfing' or on the streets.

He spent up to 14 hours each day decorating the Victorian house and said it had rekindled painting and decorating skills he had as a younger man.

Mr O'Neill hopes to move into his own home and work as a painter and decorator.