Home under the hammers of army of Leeds volunteers

HANDS ON: Left, Jim Gallagher, Dan Chaplin and volunteer Jacqui Bassue.
HANDS ON: Left, Jim Gallagher, Dan Chaplin and volunteer Jacqui Bassue.
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A housing charity in Leeds is converting a derelict empty property into a home – with a little help from television campaigner George Clarke.

The terraced house, on Hillcrest View in Chapeltown, is the first Leeds Action to Create Homes (Latch) has bought in 10 years.

It had been empty for at least a year before the organisation paid £70,000 for it, using grants and loans.

Now an army of long-term unemployed volunteers, is completely refurbishing it so that it can house a homeless family.

The new bathroom was donated by George Clarke, whose Channel 4 programme The Great British Property Scandal highlights the issue of houses lying empty.

He pledged to help out when he visited Leeds in May to take part in a conference, called Call to Action, about the problem.

He said: “I am passionate about saving empty houses that really do not need to be demolished.

“I was happy to work with B&Q to donate the bathroom to save a house that might otherwise have been left to rot for many more years. Now that it’s being brought back into use by LATCH I could not be happier.”

Mags Shelvin, of LATCH, said: “Bringing the 7,000 long-term empty homes across Leeds back into use could make a huge difference to people across the city who are living in temporary housing or other unsuitable accommodation.

“Here we are demonstrating how the three problems of homelessness, unemployment and empty homes can all be addressed with one solution.

“Unemployed volunteers gain skills and experience that will help them to find jobs, a family gets a home and the local community benefits from the empty house being lived in again.”

The house will take several months to renovate, but will be benefit from extensive energy-saving features once finished.

Trained electrician Jim Gallacher, 64, is one of the volunteers. He said: “I’ve done some work before for Latch. It’s a worthwhile project and will bring a lot of satisfaction.”

Latch is aiming to raise £20,000 to refurbish another empty home through crowd funding, whereby lots of people pledge a small amount of money to make a project happen.

Visit: www.buzzbnk.org/latch

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