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Changing Lives’ Homelife and TCUK Property Services celebrated its 21st refurbished property as part of the Government’s Empty Homes Community Grants Programme.

The innovative scheme tackles long-term empty properties bringing them back in to use to provide affordable and inviting homes for people moving forward in their lives, and their families.

The programme also provides ongoing employment, training, volunteering and apprenticeship opportunities for other Changing Lives’ clients through the charity’s subsidiary social enterprise TCUK Property Services.

Changing Lives’ first Homelife property was launched in 2012 and the scheme has secured various funding streams to purchase and renovate a total of 50 properties across Tyne and Wear, Durham and Northumberland by 2015.

The property in Wrekenton, Gateshead is Homelife’s 21st successful renovation with tenants ready and waiting to move in.

Stephen Bell OBE, Changing Lives Chief Executive said:

“We are pleased to be able to showcase our 21st refurbished property as part of the Government’s Empty Homes Community Grants Programme. The focus of the scheme is to provide good quality, long-term and stable homes for individuals and families who have experienced homelessness or associated problems. Our Homelife project does just that – provides long-term homes rather than short-term houses from which our tenants can work towards jobs and all the other positive things a stable living situation provides.

“As well as helping people in housing need, the Empty Homes programme meets local needs too. It helps to tackle homelessness, improves neighbourhoods and helps to regenerate communities. It’s a priority for the Government and local authorities and we are very proud to be delivering the Changing Lives’ Homelife project across Tyne and Wear, Durham and Northumberland.”

In interviewing and selecting tenants for the properties Changing Lives’ Homelife team give priority to people and families who have been homeless, or experienced associated problems. This includes:

  • Parents with children
  • People seeking employment or who are in low paid employment
  • People identified by the local authority as priority need

With future tenants in mind, Homelife properties are selected for their good links near to public transport and amenities. Rents are charged at 80% of market rate ensuring they are affordable for tenants and within local housing allowance limits. Properties must have been empty for at least six months and up to two years.

Stephen said:

“The empty properties are repaired and refurbished to the Homes & Communities Decent Homes Standards by our social enterprise subsidiary TCUK Property Services. This means that as well as providing decent and much needed homes for tenants, we are also doubling our social impact through a wide variety of training, volunteering and employment opportunities. Again, helping us to change more lives for more people together.”

Jeremy Middleton, who is a Trustee of Changing Lives and runs Newcastle-based investment fund Middleton Enterprises, said:

“The Changing Lives’ Homelife project is a really strong example of the Government working with the voluntary sector to help people in housing need. It’s great to see it thriving and giving more and more people a chance to get back on their feet.

“As well as providing much-needed low-cost yet high-quality housing to those who can find it difficult to secure accommodation, the Empty Homes Community Grants Programme brings uninhabited properties back into use and provides work and training for people through TCUK Property Services. It’s innovative and resourceful – a great example of an enterprising voluntary sector scheme.”

The Department for Communities and Local Government has contributed around £1.3 million to the Changing Lives’ Homelife project.

Stephen ended:

“Working with partners and other agencies, Homelife is an important and natural development for Changing Lives. It can help to provide the charity and our tenants with a stable and positive future – through the simple act of securing a home rather than a house. With over 18,500 empty homes across the North East alone, Homelife is a fantastic project and one we’re very proud of.”

To find out more about Changing Lives and the Homelife project, please contact 0191 273 8891 or visit


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