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Customer news

Metro Mayor and MP tour remodelled Buckingham House

Metro Mayor Tim Bowles and Filton and Bradley Stoke MP Jack Lopresti visited a newly refurbished supported housing scheme in Filton on Friday as part of Starts at Home day.

We invited the pair for a tour of Buckingham House to see the results of our £1.5m investment in the scheme. Over the past year we have converted eight bedsits and the former warden’s flat into six, modern one-bedroom flats. It has also completely revamped and redecorated the rest of the building, including the communal lounge where residents hold their weekly coffee morning and where the pair chatted with residents about the work.

Mr Lopresti said: “It was great to visit Buckingham House and see Merlin’s investment in housing for our community. I particularly enjoyed meeting and talking to residents who welcomed us into their homes. One resident had been with the scheme for over 25 years and I enjoyed hearing her stories of friendships she had made with different neighbours over the years. I look forward to seeing the transformation of Merlin’s properties in Patchway over the next few months and visiting residents there when they move in.”

Now in its second year, Starts at Home is run by the National Housing Federation to celebrate how supported housing helps hundreds of thousands of vulnerable people regain their independence and confidence.

With the work at Buckingham House completed, new residents are now moving in. One of them is Alfreda Verrier and she said as soon as she saw the flat that she knew she wanted to move in.

“It’s absolutely perfect,” she said. “I was so pleased to get it as I never thought I’d have somewhere to live like this. All the other residents are really nice and the staff who are supporting us are wonderful.”

Resident Fred Brooks continued living there while the work took place and said he was impressed with the transformation.

“It’s completely changed; everything is a lot brighter than it was before,” he said. “They have done a fantastic job.”

With work now completed at Buckingham House, we're starting work on a similar remodelling at Langdale Court in Patchway. We're converting ten bedsits into five large one-bedroom flats, with the number of properties at the scheme going from 17 to 12. When work is complete next summer, it will have been the fourth remodelling that we've carried out in recent years following work to other ILS schemes in Winterbourne and Yate.

Housing associations like us provide a wide range of vital supported housing services including sheltered accommodation, refuges for domestic violence victims, homelessness shelters and housing for those with disabilities. But there is uncertainty surrounding the future funding of supported housing. The National Housing Federation and its members are campaigning to persuade the Government to commit to ensuring that every person who needs extra support has a home that meets their needs.

David Orr, Chief Executive at the National Housing Federation said: “Supported housing helps people to live independently and achieve their aspirations in a safe and secure home. It is a critical time for supported housing; we must highlight how vital a lifeline it is to so many vulnerable people and show Government why supported housing should be put on a secure and sustainable footing for the future.”

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