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BCHA and Dorset Council overcome Covid challenges to successfully rehouse Weymouth residents


Melcombe House, Weymouth

Charitable housing association BCHA has, with the support of local community partner Dorset Council, successfully relocated all its customers living in Melcombe House in Weymouth to accommodation in other areas within Dorset, following a decision to close the property.

A survey of Melcombe House, made by BCHA earlier this year, confirmed that the building needed refurbishment.

Melcombe House will officially close on 31 August 2020.

Over a period of five weeks, BCHA and the Melcombe House support team has worked with Dorset Council to help these residents, who have additional support needs, with the move, which presented challenges due to the current Covid-19 crisis.

The customers are all now housed in a number of suitable properties within the BCHA housing stock as well as in other local authority housing.

Plans are being put in place to redevelop Melcombe House to provide accommodation for BCHA customers.

BCHA’s housing team has worked hard to ensure the comfort and security of the Melcombe House customers, meeting their individual needs as a matter of priority, including even successfully rehousing a customer with their dog.

The customer, said:

“Although I was comfortable in Weymouth and had plans in place, I have now moved to Bournemouth as I could take my dog with me. My new housemates have been very kind to me and my dog, who they enjoy playing with and walking.”

BCHA Business Manager, Lloyd Coates, said:

“Historically, it has been very difficult to rehouse someone who has a pet, particularly a dog, but we will always try to accommodate someone who has a pet, as we know how much a cat or dog can mean to them. For some of our customers, they feel like a pet is the only thing they can rely on to never let them down.”

Commenting on the closure of Melcombe House, Brian Swann, BCHA’s Interim Director of Housing and Customer Experience, said:

“The decision to close Melcombe House was particularly difficult, as this scheme has provided stability and support services for some of our most at risk customers over many years, but the welfare of our customers has always been our top priority. However, we are pleased to say that, having worked closely with a number of community partners, we have been able to rehouse all the residents. In addition, all the staff working at the project have been redeployed to other parts of BCHA operations.

“BCHA is currently working with the local authority and partners to explore redevelopment of the site with a view to creating improved accommodation for our customers.”

Commenting on the rehousing project, Cllr Graham Carr-Jones, Portfolio Holder for Housing and community safety at Dorset Council, said:

“The safety of our residents is first and foremost everyone’s priority. When a decision is taken to close a building for refurbishment, it’s important that all partners work together to make sure residents can move to alterative accommodation quickly and smoothly. Wherever possible, we try to rehouse residents in a community where they have local connections, but this isn’t always possible, so we work with them to find other suitable accommodation.”

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