St Brecan’s Park – homes that change lives
“My five year old daughter will have a garden for the first time in her life”; those were the words of Ann Johnston who along with her three daughters were just one of thirty five families during the last month to move into their new homes at St Brecan’s Park – an estate developed by Apex Housing Association in the Waterside area of Derry/Londonderry.
Ann’s daughter Michaela, who will turn six in July, has Downs Syndrome and is wheelchair bound. Ann explains that she has been waiting four years for a suitable house and they are delighted with what Apex has provided.
We have been renting privately for years. The last house we lived in was totally unsuitable for Michaela’s needs. We had a medical bed in our living room and we couldn’t ask for any more equipment to help us because it simply wouldn’t have fitted in the house. Access outside was a nightmare and I was always so scared of what that would mean in an emergency. It was really stressful and I found it so hard to cope.
This new house is a mansion compared to what we had before! It’s so spacious and that extra space has allowed us to request equipment, such as a hoist, that helps so much in caring for Michaela. Apex went above and beyond to provide a house that would meet our needs. We have a lift so Michaela can easily move upstairs and she has her own open plan bedroom and ensuite toilet. The garden will make such a difference for Michaela who can now enjoy sensory play outside and with a playground just around the corner, she’ll be able to find her own independence too.
Building work on St Brecan’s Park first started in 2017 on the site of the former Immaculate Conception school on Trench Road in the Waterside, and since then 78 much needed homes have been completed and handed over to families to begin their new lives.
In addition to the homes handed over in the last month, fourteen final properties will be built in 2020 once the new community hub being funded by Derry City and Strabane District Council is completed. The community hub, also being constructed on the old school’s site, will provide much needed childcare, youth and community facilities for local residents.
Simon McCarron from Apex Housing Association commented:
I know that this community will go from strength to strength with the development of these fantastic homes and the construction of the new community hub. Not only have we been able to deliver high quality homes in an area which has been calling out for development for a number of years; we have also been able to provide bespoke houses for four tenants with complex needs. These homes have literally changed lives and I’m proud to say we have played a part in that process.
Another family to start their new life in St Brecan’s Park was Erin O’Donnell and her four sons. Erin describes the shockingly bad accommodation they have endured over recent years, and says she’s thrilled they now have a house they’re proud to call home.
I was never as happy as when I got the phone call to tell me we were going to get a house in St Brecan’s Park. Our last house was so small and rotten with damp; and the boys and I were living on top of each other. I really wanted to give the boys some stability, as the longest they’d lived anywhere was three years. The stress of not being able to call somewhere ‘home’ was awful; I was always worried about accidental damage the boys might cause to a rented house.
Our new house is a palace compared to what we moved from. My twin boys – Adam and Jack – will be doing their GCSEs next year and I’m so pleased that they’ll have space to study, and all the boys have somewhere decent to hang out with their friends. Apex was brilliant to deal with and made me feel so at ease throughout the process.
I know we deserved a change of luck, and now we’ve got it.