News story

Army regiment supports BBC's DIY SOS team to transform homes for veterans

Alongside Princes William and Harry, the Army's 75 Engineer Regiment is helping turn derelict houses in Manchester into 62 homes for ex-service personnel

BBC’s DIY SOS is helping renovate an entire road in Manchester into 62 specially adapted and bespoke homes for ex-service personnel. On hand to help out the BBC DIY SOS team were 75 Engineer Regiment, who were onsite for two weeks, and Princes William and Harry who came to show their support. The renovation project is in partnership with Haig Housing, a provider of housing for ex-service personnel, and charity Walking with the Wounded.

Member of the Corp of Royal Engineers, both Regular and Reserve, are “triple traded”. They are trained firstly as soldiers, secondly as artisan tradesmen like bricklayers or electricians, and finally as combat engineers providing military engineering, such as building bridges and route clearance. The capability of the 11 individuals from 75 Engineer Regiment helping out with this project meant they were a welcome contribution to the DIY SOS team.

Reservist WO2 Jason Shawcross

Reservist WO2 Jason Shawcross RE was one of the 11 individuals from 75 Engineer Regiment. As a site foreman in his civilian life, he combined his military and civilian roles to huge success. Due to his civilian qualifications, WO2 Shawcross was able to take charge of the large equipment needed for this project - the tipper truck and the fork lift - and offer official training to two of the DIY SOS team so that they can take charge of large equipment on future projects.

Members of the Corps of Royal Engineers with Nick Knowles

Veterans, with help from charity Walking With The Wounded, have also been re-trained in construction trades and will also be part of the building team.

In recent years the Department for Communities and Local Government (DCLG), who are a strong supporter of the Armed Forces Covenant, has introduced a number of measures to ensure that members of the Armed Forces Community do not face disadvantage in housing. They have improved access to social housing, ensured that seriously injured personnel and veterans with urgent housing needs are always given high priority and introduced measures to provide support for specialist accommodation for veterans. DCLG also work with councils to prevent homelessness and introduced initiatives such as Streetlink and No Second Night Out which ensure that when veterans end up sleeping rough they are offered care and support from local services.