New bungalow transforms life for veteran | believe housing

New bungalow transforms life for veteran

5 August 2020 - Latest news

A former paramedic and armed forces veteran has had his life ‘transformed’ by a new wheelchair accessible bungalow in Seaham.

Derek Stenson was finding life in his previous, private rented house difficult, but his new bungalow has changed all that.

“I couldn’t manage the stairs it was getting ridiculous; here I’ve been transformed. My mental health has been transformed. It’s really quiet, we used to live on a main road.” Said Derek, who served in the armed forces from the age of 16 and worked in the coal industry before becoming a paramedic in Wales.

The new bungalow is the first three-bedroom dormer bungalow completed by County Durham-based believe housing on a redundant site in Seaham. The housing association has built a pair of the dormer bungalows alongside 16 traditional two-bedroom bungalows as part of a 48-home development in Heathway in the Parkside area of the east Durham town.

All the new homes are part of believe housing’s £90m, 700 home new-build programme. The award-winning programme is bringing new homes to dozens of sites across the region by 2022. It is also supporting around 2,100 jobs and providing new apprenticeship opportunities.

The programme has already completed bungalows in locations like Rookhope and St Helen Auckland, but the pair in Seaham are the first designed to help larger families like Derek’s who need a home suitable for wheelchair users.

Derek moved into his new wheelchair-accessible home with his wife Donna, two children and their pets once coronavirus restrictions allowed construction to be completed.

“The wet room has made a 100 per cent difference.” Added Derek. “I’ve got limited movement in my shoulders. It’s like I’ve been given a second chance, I’m very independent.”

believe housing is backing the National Housing Federation’s ‘Homes at the Heart’ campaign. The campaign is calling for more investment in social housing as a means of tackling the housing crisis, boosting the economy and creating jobs in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic.

Chief Executive of believe housing, Bill Fullen, said: “It’s great to see that Derek and his family have settled in so quickly. The new bungalow is clearly making a major difference to the quality of their lives.

“Obviously our new homes are designed to help people like Derek, but they also help the economy, provide jobs and transform brownfield sites. There are few investments that can provide a better return for our communities. That’s why we’re backing calls for more investment in social housing as a key part of the recovery from coronavirus.”

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