DIY SOS Transforms Derelict Street Into Haven For Injured Army Veterans
If you're an army veteran who's come home from duty injured and unable to work, readjusting to civvy life can be a serious problem.
BBC TV show DIY SOS highlighted this after it teamed up with charity Walking with the Wounded to take over a street of houses in Manchester and gave them to veteran families. The episode is due to be aired on BBC1 at 8pm tonight.
Credit: BBC/DIY SOS
DIY SOS presenter Nick Knowles and his team renovated the near-derelict Canada St in Miles Platting and transformed its former mill-workers' cottages into a row of homes specially adapted for injured ex-servicemen.
"People suggested building accommodation for veterans in old military building, but that's re-institutionalising them," said Knowles. "For me it was very important to do this in a street where there were already civilian families."
"It's great to have a cup of tea with somebody who knows what you've been through, but it's also very important to go across the road and talk about football or fishing with someone who wasn't a veteran - otherwise you never move on."
Many of the terraced homes on Canada Street were shuttered up and abandoned, and those that still had people living in them desperately needed TLC.
Credit: Haig Housing
Manchester City Council, Haig Housing association, charities, builders and volunteers all offered to help, leading the street to undergo a £3.5m ($4.6m) upgrade. Even Princes William and Harry chipped in.
The street's empty homes were completely renovated and specially adapted for the needs of injured ex-servicemen, while the homes that were still occupied were also improved.
Now Canada Street looks totally different, full of smart white homes, tidy gardens and even flower planters. Talk about a transformation.
37-year-old ex-vet Simon Flores, who lost his left leg in an IED explosion in Iraq in 2006 and had previously been living in an ill-suited two-bedroom council house, is just one of the people who've moved onto the street.
"The houses are beautiful," Simon, a single dad-of-two, and the last of the vets to move onto Canada St told the Mirror. "It's like a dream come true. I needed to pinch myself, it was like walking into a movie, when you see a home that you've always dreamed of having."
Simon and the other veterans now living on the street will get help from its new support office that offers advice on jobs, education, training and readjusting to civilian life.
Both Knowles and Parker have praised the project, with Knowles saying the project resulted in a community on the street which 'goes far beyond what we ever imagined'.
Fellow charity Hull 4 Heroes, inspired by Canada Street, is now midway through a similar project in Hull, with other organisations looking into how they can help their ex-servicemen and women.
Featured Image Credit: BBC/DIY SOS