CHRISTMAS has come early for people living in ‘sheltered’ housing across South Tyneside.
South Tyneside Council and its housing company, South Tyneside Homes, have been awarded £6.8m to spend in the borough.
The funding, awarded by the Government’s Homes and Communities Agency, follows extensive negotiations with the agency and is seen as a reward for a proven track record in delivering high quality improvements to housing for older people under the Decent Homes Programme.
The money will be used to build new conservatories and to install greater energy-efficient technologies at Housing Plus complexes – the new name for what was formerly known as sheltered housing.
Some of the cash will also be used on multi-sensory rooms to create more stimulating environments, particularly for people with dementia.
The works coincide with the Department of Health’s report on ‘Dementia care and Support’, which places more emphasis on early intervention and greater mental stimulation in the home environment.
To celebrate the multi-million pound boost council officials went to the Thomas Bell House sheltered accommodation unit in, Ryedale Court, South Shields to go through with residents the type of improvements the grant will pay for.
Coun Jim Foreman, the council’s lead member for housing and transport, said: “This is great news. I am delighted that so many schemes are to benefit from these additional works. There is no doubt that the proposed improvements will greatly add to the quality of lives of residents who live in them.”
Coun Ed Malcolm, chairman of the South Tyneside Homes board, added: “We are already proud of the improvements that have been carried out to many of the Housing Plus schemes in the borough.
“This extra funding will allow works that will further enhance the lives of the tenants in the schemes and there is a lot of work to do over the months to meet this commitment. I’m confident that the company will rise to the challenge.”
South Tyneside Homes’ own workforce has already completed extensive Decent Homes improvements to many of the schemes for older people.
This has included providing new kitchens, showers and major modernisations to communal areas. The plans impressed Ann Nicholson, 77, who has lived at Thomas Bell House for 17 years.
She said: “I think it will be very beneficial. It’s something tenants have been waiting for, for a long time. The lads have already done a great job and having other amenities is a really good idea.”
The improvements are to be carried out at the larger self-contained Housing Plus units across the borough.