Nick Knowles Opens New Homes for Ex-service Personnel in Bristol03-07-2012
TV presenter Nick Knowles has opened the country’s first homes to be built by ex-servicemen in Bristol. The development in West Street, Bedminster, is the joint initiative of Knightstone Housing Association and the Community Self-Build Agency, who formed partnerships with Leadbitter Group, the Homes and Communities Agency and Bristol City Council to make this project happen.
The 14 new homes are part of a self-build specialist housing project. It is the first Train and Build scheme of its kind to house homeless ex-servicemen. Ten of the homes are for ex-service personnel and four are for people with disabilities.
Ken Hames, former Major in the Armed Forces, was behind the initiative, along with Stella Clarke, Chairman of the Community Self-Build Agency.
Ken Hames said: "The problem of homelessness for ex-service personnel has become more and more evident nationally, and particularly in and around Bristol. We recognised the real need to engage these men in meaningful support, which has built their confidence and skills, and made a huge difference to their lives."
Leadbitter Group worked closely with the ex-service personnel, providing training and new skills, as well as leading on the construction. The men gained a range of qualifications, from NVQs in bricklaying and painting and decorating, to dry-lining and catering.
Charlie Scherer, Regional Director of Leadbitter’s West and Wales Housing division, said: "It has been a pleasure to see the skills of the trainees develop as they’ve built their new homes. We have seen a massive rise in self-confidence and their belief in themselves, and we are proud to have played a part in their exciting journey."
The project received £660,000 in funding from the HCA, as well as considerable support from Bristol City Council, the Merchant Venturers, Tremain Powell Partnership and GCP Architects.
Area Manager of the HCA, Jay Lambe said: "This project proves what is possible when partners work together to deliver services where they’re most needed. This initiative provides both quality affordable housing and an opportunity to find work for men and women who have served this country and now need support to re-establish themselves in the community."
Nick Horne, Chief Executive of Knightstone, said: "True partnership working has been paramount in bringing West Street through from an idea to a reality. We’re really pleased to have been part of such a pioneering project. Now that the project is complete, our Supported Housing team is looking forward to offering ongoing support to the new residents of West Street."