Safe haven

Sharron is the primary caregiver for her special needs grandson and when her landlord gave her notice to move out she felt she was ‘out of options’.

Reluctant to leave her Hutt Valley suburb (her grandson was well-established at the local school, and changes are difficult for him to manage), Sharron cashed up her Kiwisaver and bought a property she could just afford in the same area.

At the time, the home required urgent maintenance; the roof was leaking, allowing water to flow into the ceilings and causing the tiles to slump and drip above her bed. Her kitchen was in a state of disrepair, with broken kitchen joinery, patchy holes and little storage space. There were more dangerous holes in her bathroom floor and even worse– the toilet moved! To add to the problems, a cold, damp and leaky concrete block wall stretched across the two bedrooms.

Sharron’s daughter noticed the pain and frustration her mother was experiencing and sought help from Ryhaven Trust to tackle the worst of these issues.

Systematically, areas were fixed by the Ryhaven team. Externally, they repaired holes in the roof and Ryhaven builder, Bernard created an accessible laundry enclosed on the back porch so that Sharron didn’t need to haul washing up and down a path to the basement.

Inside, the house has been transformed, featuring new insulated ceilings, additional bathroom fixtures, and a refreshed kitchen with brand new pantry, benchtops and flooring. In the bedrooms, a new gib layer was installed atop the former bare concrete block wall and all the walls in the home have been repaired and freshly painted. It looks and feels like a different home.

When Sharron’s 21-year-old son unexpectedly moved home, Ryhaven also provided a cabin for him to stay in. “The small rent we pay for the cabin has meant that my son has been able to stay at home and get back on his feet.”

Sharron says it is a huge thing to be able to have people in her home now and not feel embarrassed. She has nothing but praise for Ryhaven’s contribution in bringing these changes about and makes special mention of Bernard in his role. “Without them (Ryhaven) we would still be in an incredibly dangerous and unhealthy home.”

Photography: Russell Finnerty
Words: Gill Burns