BBC DIY SOS calls for construction support

A project to develop a veterans’ community by bringing empty homes back in to use in east Manchester is calling for construction firms to offer their support.

Military veterans – including those with families or who are single – could find a new home in the specially established community, while being part of the BBC DIY SOS programme.

Construction firms already signed up to support the project include: Kier, ISG, Keepmoat, Mears, Rowlinsons, Wates Living Space and Willmott Dixon, along with architects BTP and design lead Arcus – and there are still a wide range of opportunities for contractors and supply chain firms to get involved across every stage of the build.

This is the largest BBC DIY SOS Big Build project to date and the amount of work ambitious - timber frame joiners, specialist joiners, kitchen fitters and floor fitters – along with just about every other trade – are in high demand to get the job done.

The BBC DIY SOS team will be in east Manchester – Thursday 20 August from 9am - to meet organisations who are interested in being involved in the development and discuss the opportunities that are available to them.

The project – that is bringing together Manchester City Council, the BBC’s DIY SOS Big Build project, charities Walking With The Wounded and Haig Housing and Adactus Housing Groups in a first of its kind development – will improve the street scene to provide disabled access and disabled parking and introduce planting, facelift all 62 properties and refurbish 8 of the 25 empty homes on the streets.

The refurbishments will 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.

As part of a second phase the remaining 17 empty properties will be refurbished by the charity Haig Housing. Completed properties will offer opportunities for veterans to get on the housing ladder with options including shared equity, discount purchase and rent to buy.

The aim is to create a veteran’s 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 provide a space for the community. Training and employment opportunities are being developed for veterans and existing residents.

Nick Knowles, the BBC DIY SOS presenter, said: "We'd love to get local trades involved. This is a massive project - our biggest yet - and we really need your help. We especially need special joiners and timber frame experts, kitchen fitters and carpet and flooring fitters. Come and join us. It'll be really worthwhile and a lot of fun."

Cllr Bernard Priest, Deputy Leader of Manchester City Council, said: "This is an inspiring project that is bringing together a wide-ranging selection of construction and building specialists to help support veterans in to suitable accommodation – and we would urge anyone who has building experience to get in touch and get involved."

Edward Parker, CEO and Co-founder of Walking With The Wounded, said: "For Walking With The Wounded the DIY SOS build is the start of a long-term project to support Manchester’s veteran community. Working with partners on the build and other North West businesses we will deliver sustainable, valued employment to thousands of the ex-service wounded community over the next 10 years to enshrine the legacy of the build."

James Richardson, CEO of Haig Housing, said "We are excited to be part of this regeneration initiative that will enable us to help more Veterans with their housing needs by offering flexible and incremental steps towards home ownership."

The Trades Day will be held in east Manchester on Thursday 20 August from 9.00am.

Interested contractors should contact Nina at the BBC DIY SOS team on 0771 191 3064 or to book a slot.

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