HANDS-ON APPROACH HELPS FAMILY'S DREAM OF HOME OWNERSHIP COME TRUE
HLONIPANI Ben Mpofu dreamed of building a home for his family and thanks to a Liverpool charity he's been able to do just that.
Now he's urging other families in the city to do the same as Liverpool Habitat for Humanity begins recruiting home partners for its remaining 23 homes off Kingsley Road, in Granby-Toxteth.
Having moved to the city nine years ago because of the political situation in his native Zimbabwe, Ben longed to own his own home in his adopted country. Unable to raise the large cash deposit required by most lenders he was delighted to discover that Liverpool Habitat for Humanity would allow him to invest 500 hours of 'sweat equity' in lieu of cash to help build a home for his family and those of his neighbours.
Like other Habitat home partners, Ben and his wife Doreen were then able to purchase between 50 and 70% of the home and hope to eventually own it outright by buying the remaining share over time.
Ben explained: "We were living in a rented council house when we heard about the LHFH scheme through friends. I thought 'wow – it's great value', particularly when it's so difficult to raise money for a deposit to buy a house. We would not have been able to afford to buy otherwise."
While helping to build his own home, Ben took part in training courses under LHFH's 'Learn for Life' programme, gaining industry-recognised qualifications including level one diplomas in plastering, bricklaying and painting. With some experience and qualifications under his belt, Ben would now like to work in the building trade.
"Building my own home in this country was something I dreamed of," Ben commented.
"It's a great feeling to know that you are building something that will be yours at the end of the day. I'm a hands-on person and enjoyed every bit of it. It was a real learning curve."
Ben and Doreen, who is studying to be a social worker, together with their children Vanessa, seven, and Joseph , two, moved to their new home in Granby-Toxteth last year and say it felt like home straight away.
Homes at the Habitat site off Kingsley Road are built almost entirely by volunteers, with individuals, groups and companies coming from all around the globe to help out.
Around 18 months ago, with nine homes built and eight families housed, building work ground to a halt as the recession hit hard.
However, a new partnership with Liverpool-based Cosmopolitan Housing Association, including an injection of £2 million funds, means the housing charity can now start building again. It's also had volunteer help from the Territorial Army's 75 Engineer Regiment to dig drains and build the road that will service the remaining homes, a donation of materials from construction giant Balfour Beatty and subsidiary Birse Civils, plus the backing of Liverpool City Council.
Ben welcomes news that the partnership with Cosmopolitan Housing Association will enable the remaining 23 houses to be built in six phases over the next two-and-a-half years.
"We have been looking forward to work starting again as it will give the area a new start," Ben said.
"I would definitely recommend that other people get involved and invest their time in helping to build their own home. I have met and made friends with so many people from different places and backgrounds. It's wonderful because it's like work and play at the same time."
LHFH is currently identifying home partners for future phases, as well as volunteers who wish to get involved in helping to build the homes. For more information telephone the charity on 0151 707 9440 or visit the website: www.liverpoolhfh.org.uk.