This week is Empty Homes Week; a national campaign raising awareness about the number of empty properties across the UK, a figure which reaches over 10,000 in Greater Manchester and over 216,000 nationally.
Rochdale is one of the few local authority areas who has seen a reduction in empty homes in the past year, thanks to Rochdale Borough Council and partner organisations, including ourselves. we help to convert empty properties into affordable housing for vulnerable groups including care leavers but also use the conversion process as an opportunity to provide training opportunities to those who need it most.
Our Housing Refurbishment project engages local, unemployed people in the improvement of derelict, underused or neglected homes near where they live. This provides local people with work experience and where appropriate, new skills and qualifications to go on to find sustained employment.
This week, four construction trainees (from left to right Damien Wynn, Michael Haydock, Brandon Slater and Charlie Henry) are busy working on a property on Briton Street in Rochdale, applying the skills they’ve learnt in a workshop into practice. Before this, the property was left unoccupied for a lengthy period. In less than 15 weeks the run down two-bedroom terrace has been transformed into two single occupancy flats, each with their own private entrance. The flats should be available as affordable housing by the end of October.
Since 2009 thirty one properties have been refurbished in Rochdale by Groundwork in Greater Manchester and over 153 local unemployed people have taken part in the scheme. Many have progressed into work or further training as a direct result of the skills and experience gained on the programme.
Phil Treaton, Head of Neighbourhoods at Groundwork in Greater Manchester said:
We’ve been operating in Rochdale for over 10 years and more recently in Oldham too. This year’s figures indicate more work is required across the city region so we’re keen to see this programme expanded across Greater Manchester in the near future.
The project is made possible thanks to the support of Rochdale Borough Council and LandAid.