Local housing provider, Friendship Care and Housing (Friendship), and Birmingham City Council have developed a pioneering House2Home Project to teach people the practical skills they need to live independently.
The first of its kind, the programme takes learning out of the classroom with lessons taking place in a specially refurbished house. Experienced staff from both Friendship and the council are on hand to provide tenants with tailored advice.
One-to-one training sessions cover practical skills such as DIY, managing a household budget and how to get online as well as advice on how to find work.
Theresa, one of Friendship's new tenants, was the first to try the project out and said: “I've learnt so much! I'm 34 with four children. I've got life experience but my mum has always been the homemaker. I didn't know all of what's involved, it's such a mine field, but I've picked up so much information today!”
The pilot scheme will be assessed after a six month trial period to establish the benefit of rolling out more House 2 Home properties across Birmingham.
Cllr James McKay, Birmingham City Council's cabinet member for Social Cohesion, Equalities & Community Safety, said: “Turning a house into a home can be a challenge for anyone but can be particularly daunting if you're young and short of money. This new scheme will help and support people with managing their finances, DIY skills and training and employment within a home setting. Not only is this a great scheme for tenants but it makes sense for us to support people in this way as landlords so that they are equipped to look after their property and become more self-reliant and independent.”
Sally Debiage, project coordinator and customer involvement officer at Friendship added: “The property is actually a lesson in itself. We refurbished and furnished one of our two bedroom properties almost entirely free of charge by taking advantage of various websites such as Gumtree and Freecycle. Our customers often start their tenancies under the impression that they will need to take out loans to buy furniture and other basic but necessary items to make a house feel like home. Therefore, the House 2 Home project is proof that there are really cheap and often completely free ways of furnishing a property on a budget!”
Notes for Editors
Founded in 1956, Friendship Care and Housing (Friendship) has been working for more than 50 years to tackle inequality and celebrate diversity. Today Friendship employs nearly 500 staff throughout the Midlands. Friendship now owns and manages a portfolio of more than 4,600 properties across the East and West Midlands (in Birmingham, Walsall, Derby, Leicestershire, Nottinghamshire and Warwickshire) and provides a wide range of support and care services.
Friendship works very closely with other organisations including councils, the NHS, voluntary organisations and welfare, housing and regeneration agencies for the benefit of many local communities.
Friendship is part of the Longhurst Group of companies, one of the largest housing providers in the Midlands.