A helping hand for vulnerable tenants

Suffolk Housing tenants in Lowestoft have become volunteer handymen to help vulnerable and elderly n

Suffolk Housing tenants in Lowestoft have become volunteer handymen to help vulnerable and elderly neighbours. Picture: PAGEPIX - Credit: Archant

Vulnerable and elderly tenants at two of Suffolk Housing's sheltered schemes are now getting a helping hand – thanks to the generosity of their community-minded neighbours.

Three tenants at Apple Tree Close and The Venlaw, based in Kirkley Park Road in Lowestoft, have signed up to become volunteer handymen, which means they can help with simple DIY, home maintenance and 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, unblocking sinks, putting up shelves, painting and plumbing in washing machines. They will use tools donated by Foster Property Maintenance, which is Suffolk Housing's maintenance contractor.

This initiative is currently running on a trial basis but will be rolled out across some of Suffolk Housing's other schemes should it prove to be a success.

Nick Carter, 76, who has lived at the Venlaw for around 10 years, decided to volunteer to make the most of the skills he developed while working as a self-employed handyman. He said: 'I have always liked DIY, doing repairs and making things, including two small boats. I worked for 59 years and spent the last 28 as a self-employed handyman.

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'I like to keep busy doing something useful.'

Martin Barnes-Smith, corporate and community services manager with Suffolk Housing, said: 'We are really pleased to launch this innovative new scheme, which is empowering our tenants and encouraging them to take pride in their neighbourhood. The initiative offers 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.'

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Carmen St John, contracts manager with Foster Property Maintenance, 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.'

All larger repairs will continue to be carried out by Fosters.

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