Retired Rushden builder’s ‘DIY SOS’ call to help the homeless

John Povey is looking for volunteers to help make a difference for homeless people living in and around Rushden
John Povey is looking for volunteers to help make a difference for homeless people living in and around Rushden

A retired builder is urging people to join him as he tries to bring empty properties back into use to help the homeless.

John Povey of Rushden wants to create a team of volunteers to take on projects including minor refurbishment of empty council-owned buildings or converting properties such as office blocks into short-term temporary housing.

He said: “I know this is not a quick fix as we will need to jump through many hoops before it gets off the ground fully.

“But I am trying to get retired trades people or even those still working who could see their way to volunteering a couple of days a month to work on a project.

“I would be seeking assistance from builders’ merchants to supply materials at cost or even free in return for their sponsorship on promotional materials.”

John will be speaking to authorities including East Northants Council about any suitable buildings they own or are in control of that are derelict or run-down and can be brought back into use cheaply.

He hopes any renovated properties could provide a mid-term solution to help people get back on track and give local authorities more time to find a long-term solution.

John believes the project could provide many long-term benefits, and added: “By providing a certain degree of shelter and security for six months instead of shelters which provide a night by night service, those who could be re-employed would actually have a fixed address, and those who are in drug rehabilitation programmes could be supervised in an outreach clinic set up within the converted building.

“There could also be an opportunity for some of the homeless to become employed on the premises as a facility supervisor, keeping the communal areas clean and being responsible for reporting damage and abuse of the property.

“The buildings are out there slowly becoming vandalised and decaying as we sit in our warm homes.

“We need some voluntary help with repairs, we need suppliers to be generous, we need people to step outside their comfort zone and say yes to helping those in need without asking for something in return.

“I am a retired builder and instructor of construction within the education sector, there are many semi and retired builders out there that would benefit from joining a group of like-minded souls to help others much worse off than themselves.

“But if no-one takes that first step and sees the potential in an idea, then there will be no progress in reducing the scale of homelessness in the UK today.

“If the likes of DIY SOS can get 200 tradesmen to step up for a project with just the offer of a bit of free publicity, then surely other groups could be set up locally in each local authority area.”

John has set up a crowdfunding page to raise £2,000 to cover expenses and insurance for the project.

To make a donation click here

John has also written to The Big Issue, Northampton’s Men In Sheds and Shelter UK about his idea.

For more details email povey-j@sky.com or search for John’s Reaching Out Therapy page on Facebook.