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Guardian Public Service Awards: housing winner


The Guardian


Linda Jackson


A scheme revolutionising affordable housing in a deprived area hit by the right-to-buy policy and years of limited construction.

Moving into a new two-bedroom bungalow in the village of St Helen Auckland in County Durham has allowed pensioners Thomas and Margaret Brown and their son Graham to spend time together as a family again. Four years ago, 54-year-old Graham was involved in a hit and run accident which left him unable to walk, forcing him to move into care.

Home visits were out of the question as Thomas and Margaret lived in a four-bedroom house without adequate wheelchair access. But thanks to a newbuild from believe housing, the north-east’s biggest housing association, the couple can now welcome their son home for weekend visits.

The wheelchair-adaptable bungalow, which is just around the corner from the couple’s former home, is one of four to be completed in the village last year by the housing association, which prides itself on building the right homes in the right places – transforming lives in the process. “We are very happy, and we can see Graham is happier too,” says 84-year-old former factory worker Thomas. “The accident left him unable to speak or get up and he spends his time in his room in the care home. Now when he comes to us, we can see him smiling to himself and having a little giggle. It makes a big difference.”

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