“Coming Home – Suitable Housing and Attractive Adaptations at Minimal Cost”
Haig Housing Trust and Haig Home in partnership with The Society of British Interior Design (SBID)
The Society of British and International Design (SBID) promotes and protects trained interior and architectural design practitioners from around the world. Its members also include manufacturers providing fixtures for interior space.
Help for Heroes is a phenomenal charity that has (at the date of this article) already raised £121,90 million for the Military Forces injured personnel.
It has captured the hearts of the nation in the way it delivers assistance. Getting up and organising a fundraising event from cake-offs to international walks and even ‘X-Factor’ popular TV shows and celebrities from sport, music, fashion and toys have crossed every border, every community and every industry – except interior design. So The Society of British Interior Design set about to address that imbalance.
Organising a fundraising dinner is possible but design is about innovation and Britain has an abundance of it. To create a difference we can improve the transition into a different life for our past servicemen by making basic living functions and family units less stressful.
We wanted to create change, so we designed a longterm programme to engage manufacturers with product consumers. This helps our industry improve ‘fit for purpose’ and reduces their research and development costs. It returns a sense of value and pride into every injured personnel engaged in the programme as we gather data from their feedback and we build a dialogue between product producer and product consumer.
This data is then shared with our designers and hopefully we can remove the unsightly safety equipment from residential homes by redesigning product shape, material and functionality into products that our young servicemen and women along with our elder retired servicemen will want to use. We hope to view the ugly bathrooms, support and access equipment currently being produced as a thing of the past.
Looking at Help for Heroes around Britain we can see all kinds of fundraising approaches. But SBID chose to create industry change over fundraising as our ongoing legacy to demonstrate our gratitude for the price our servicemen have paid. We hope to address the impact good design can have on the well being of the occupiers can have on a building in the most positive way. The engagement of an entire society.
This is not a single interior design event, it is leading a change in design.
H4H are delighted to have committed £1m (subject to funding) a year to HHT’s ‘Coming Home’ campaign for the next five years. The campaign is raising money to provide specially adapted and appropriate housing for the hundreds of Service personnel in need of rebuilding their lives.
HHT leads for the ex-Service charities on housing matters in the UK, and raises funds for the provision of suitable housing through its “Coming Home” campaign. HHT liaises closely with the Army’s Personnel Recovery Units (PRUs) throughout the UK and Germany, MOD’s Defence Infrastructure and Estates departments, the Royal Marines Hasler (Recovery) Company and the RAF Benevolent Fund Housing Department, as well as other ex-Service charities such as The Royal British Legion, The Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen and Families Association (SSAFA) Forces Help, the British Limbless Ex Service Men’s Association (BLESMA), and in Scotland Scottish Veterans and Scottish Veterans Garden City Association.
Since 1929 Haig Homes has provided good quality housing to ex-Service personnel in housing need and now has 1350 properties on estates throughout the UK. Haig set up Haig Housing Trust (HHT) in 2008 to provide more rapid and flexible forms of housing help to the Service community, including:
- advising and hand-holding in property purchase
- a property finding and negotiating service
- purchase of disabled friendly property where needed, and low cost rental
- a shared ownership scheme to enable injured and disabled Service men and women awarded Armed Forces Compensation Scheme money to purchase a suitable property without using all their compensation as it needs to last them a lifetime
- advice on / co-ordination of adaptations to housing, often in an agency role on behalf of other charities such as Help for Heroes and ABF The Soldiers’ Charity
HHT helps not only those wounded or disabled on operational duties but also those seriously injured in training and in some cases off-duty accidents. It aims to give housing advice to at the earliest possible opportunity to prevent servicemen or their next of kin making costly housing mistakes.
The design of disabled equipment used in the home, from hand rails and grab handles to wheel chairs, derives mainly from hospital equipment, and is often unnecessarily clunky, obtrusive and unattractive. Feed-back from HHT’s disabled tenants and other disabled ex-Service personnel will provide SBID with the data to promote the design of more attractive adaptation equipment and more effectively lobby government.
Following a four year research and collaboration report with government quangos and councils, related organisations and of course end-users, SBID will provide and facilitate valuable feedback to manufacturers for improvement of disabled products, integration with construction companies relating to adaptation and designers and architects working collaboratively to improve residential interiors for longevity, adaptation and future-proof. The programme, in association with Hope for Heroes will help stakeholders achieve improvement at minimal financial investment
Co-located in Victoria with ABF The Soldiers Charity, The Officers’ Association and The Confederation of Service Charities (COBSEO), HHT leads for the Service charities on housing issues; there will be a natural synergy for HHT to engage with a standard-bearer organisation like SBID conveniently located on a business park in near-by Battersea.
The partnership aims to provide evidence for research and development in product manufacture and to reduce adaptation costs. By promoting the production of more elegant adaptive solutions it will enhance the well-being of inhabitants moving into adapted homes and provide more aesthetically pleasing adaptations for people’s changing needs. This collaboration provides low-cost innovative enhancement to all stakeholders. The adjustment to the life and well being of just one injured servicemen is a worthwhile cause, creating several is a mission. Together as a society we can achieve it.