A helping hand for vulnerable tenants 

Volunteer handyman (1)Volunteer handyman (2)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.


Three tenants at Apple Tree Close and The Venlaw, which are in Kirkley Park Road in 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, 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

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.

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.

“I have always liked DIY, doing repairs and making things, including two small boats,” he said. “I worked for 59 years and spent the last 28 as a self-employed handyman.

“I like to keep busy doing something useful and am also in a litter picking group, give digital slideshows to local clubs and groups and do a bit of running to keep fit.”

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.”

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. The sense of community at these sites is clearly evident.”

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

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