BBC’s DIY SOS to re-visit Haig Housing's Veterans Village in Manchester

Following their incredible facelift of an East Manchester street alongside eight of its properties last year, DIY SOS returns to Manchester to refurbish the final property in Haig Housing’s Veterans Village.

In 2014, Haig Housing accepted 25 derelict properties from Manchester City Council. The Trust’s aim was to create a Veterans’ Village that could provide adapted housing, careers advice and counselling to its veteran residents, giving them a helping hand as they transitioned into civilian life. In order to make this ambitious idea a reality, Haig Housing collaborated with Walking with the Wounded and the BBC’s DIY SOS who immediately started work on the project.

Our collaboration proved a huge success - last year nine million viewers tuned in to watch the Royal Television Society winning episodes of “DIY SOS: Homes for Veterans”. The programs followed the team and their dedicated army of volunteers as they created fit-for-purpose family homes for ex-service personnel alongside a support hub, now managed by Walking with the Wounded. Supported by hundreds of contract and suppliers, the project even received a royal seal of approval from HRH Prince William and HRH Prince Harry who attended the site as volunteers.

Far from grinding to a halt in the absence of the DIY SOS team, Haig Housing has been busy refurbishing the remaining fifteen derelict properties. These are now complete and have been let to veterans and their families. Walking with the Wounded have supported not only the new residents to the street but also the existing ones through their support hub, based right on the street. The hub provides temporary accommodation for single veterans whilst also providing training and counselling for all veterans to aid their transition into civilian life.

As a fitting finale to the work made possible through the collaboration of the Trust, Walking with the Wounded, DIY SOS, Manchester City Council and the key contractors Kier, Wates and Arcus, the DIY SOS team returned to Canada Street at the end of October 2016 to refurbish and adapt the final Haig property. This refurbishment will be included in DIY SOS’s second “Homes for Veterans” show at the site which will be aired on BBC 1 in early 2017 - so keep you eyes peeled!

To reinforce the positive impact the build has had on the veteran community, please see below the awards the project has received:

  • Royal Television Society Best Popular Factual and Features Series, National and West of England: Winner
  • UK Housing Awards, Outstanding Local Authority (MCC): Winner
  • Local Authority Building Awards NW (LABC) Best Inclusive Building: Winner
  • RICS NW Regeneration Award: Winner
  • North West Regional Construction Awards, Integration and Collaborative Working category: Highly Commended

The project as also been shortlisted for the Housing Project of the Year Award at the Builder and Engineer Awards. The winner will be announced in 2017.

Haig Housing Trust CEO, James Richardson, said:

“The Haig Housing Trust, which is celebrating its 100th birthday, is excited to be involved in this incredible project to regenerate housing and provide much needed affordable homes for veterans in Manchester.
Haig Housing Trust, the UK’s leading charity for veterans accommodation, has, in between the BBC projects, refurbished fifteen derelict homes all of which are being let to veteran families in housing need. Haig is now working to offer low cost ownership options to veterans and secure the homes to help future generations.
It has all been made possible through the support of Manchester City Council who gifted the derelict homes and the BBC DIY SOS refurbished 10 of the 25 properties enabling the whole project. The Veterans’ Village is alive and vibrant thanks to huge cooperation.”

Edward Parker, CEO and Co-founder of Walking With the Wounded, said:

“The DIY SOS partnership was a first of its kind and as a result of its success Walking With The Wounded has been able to launch all our services to veterans in the North West. As a result of the WWTW centre on the street residents are getting the training and employment opportunities they need in a veteran’s housing community within the existing community. We celebrate this unique partnership between public, private and charity sectors and urge anyone who might benefit from being part of this community to get in touch with the BBC.”

Nick Knowles, the BBC DIY SOS presenter, says:

“After last year’s massive success I’m pleased we are returning to Manchester to carry on the legacy supporting our Veterans. We couldn’t have wished for a warmer welcome from the people of Manchester and our partners who have chipped in to make this fantastic project possible. We’ve had everyone from builders, sparkies, laborers, volunteers and even royalty involved and now we’re looking for one more veteran and their family to turn our final house in to a home. We’ve done some brilliant builds down the years but this really is the end of the greatest project the DIY SOS team have carried out. It’ll certainly be a bittersweet moment when we close the door on the final home knowing we’ve built some superb houses, with the necessary support, employment and community services available to serve our veterans well in the years ahead”.