Council working with community to renovate empty houses
BRINGING empty properties back into use is about more than just bricks and mortar.
For Steve Coldham, it is about getting his life back on track.
The 31-year-old builder has recently landed a full-time job with social housing charity Disc after initially volunteering to work on its first property makeover in Hull.
Working in the city for the first time, the charity is bringing ten long-term empty properties back into use after securing £100,000 of housing funding from the Government.
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"It's a lot tougher to get a job in the building industry these days compared to when I was younger," said Mr Coldham.
"Back then, you used to be able to turn up at a site, ask if there were any jobs going and the chances are you would be working there by the end of the day.
"Now there's hardly any work and it's all about filling in forms and CVs and hoping for the best because hundreds of people are looking for work.
"I even went after one job at a site doing a bit of brickwork and the gaffer said I really shouldn't be doing it because I was overqualified for what they wanted me to do."
Unemployed but looking to keep his hand in, he volunteered to join the Disc programme after the charity identified ten suitable properties with Hull City Council.
After working on the flat in Holderness Road, east Hull, for seven weeks, he has not only landed a job but is also now living in the property he helped refurbish.
Mr Coldham said: "It hadn't really been touched since the 1970s, so it needed a bit of work doing to it.
"It was good to be doing something useful again.
"Before volunteering, I would be sitting at home all day getting on people's nerves.
"Getting back out on a job, renovating a property alongside others who have been in the same situation as me turned out to be a good move for me.
"We all supported each other and we are really proud of the results."
Site manager Steve Evans has also secured a job with Disc after initially volunteering his services at the Holderness Road flat.
He is now supervising the renovation of a two-bedroom house in Lanark Street, west Hull, which has been empty for three years.
He said: "It's early days for Disc in Hull but with ten properties on the books so far, it means there's work for the next two years.
"Having volunteered myself on the first job, I know what some of the lads are prepared to do to help themselves by getting involved.
"It's a good way to keep their skills up to date by turning empty properties back into places where people can live."
As well as the empty homes initiative, the charity is also looking to open a six-bed "community house" in Hull for tenants recovering from drug and alcohol problems, long- term unemployment or family break-ups.