Among the first residents to move in was nurse Abhik Jacob and his partner Pretty Mary Zachariah. The pair emigrated from India four years ago and had been working at a London hospital before relocating to Salford after securing jobs at Salford Royal. Abhik, who has recently started work in Salford Royal’s Emergency Assessment Unit, said: “Finding somewhere affordable to live close to where you work is very difficult, so Alexander Gardens is perfect for us and has made the stress of relocating much easier. We’re enjoying getting to know the area and it’s great that my commute to the hospital only takes 15 minutes on the bus.”
The development was officially opened to huge fanfare in December 2018, by Sir David Dalton, chief executive of the Northern Care Alliance NHS Foundation Trust. Within less than two months the development was fully occupied – and the waiting list continues to grow, with residents echoing the sentiment of Abhik, who would have struggled to accept their job offers at the hospital without Alexander Gardens.
Speaking at the launch, Sir David Dalton said: “18 years ago when I first started at Salford Royal, Government policy was to then dispose of NHS accommodation, so here we are almost 20 years later seeing that we can open new accommodation for our workers, and I hope this is the first of a number of units that we will see the NHS delivering in partnership with housing associations like Salix Homes.”
The crucial lesson learnt is the importance of the health and housing sectors working together for a common goal. The crisis’ facing both services are well-documented, but Alexander Gardens is testimony to the importance of working in partnership to overcome some of these critical issues. Last year, the NHS turned 70, but sadly its future has never been in so much doubt: stretched, under-funded and unable to attract enough recruits, but we have proved the housing sector can help, and we’re proud to be helping our NHS to continue its fantastic work for another 70 years and beyond.
The project is already capturing the imagination of the wider sector, with the launch receiving over 8,000 impressions on Twitter and being featured by high-profile media-outlets including ITV. Furthermore, both ourselves and Salford Royal have been approached from housing providers and hospital trusts nationwide to share how this partnership can be mirrored elsewhere, with Alexander Gardens providing the blueprint for a sustainable model.
NHS boss Ian Moston added: “We are confident this venture with Salix Homes is the first of many initiatives where we believe we can collaborate to improve the health and wellbeing of people living and working in our communities.”
Lee Sugden, chief executive at Salix Homes, said: “This partnership with the NHS, supported by funding from the Affordable Homes Programme, presented an opportunity for us to not only bring an empty building back in to use and create desperately needed homes, but also to help our local hospital attract much-needed key workers into Salford, which benefits the whole community. “It’s no secret that the country is in the grips of a housing crisis, but it really brings it home when our own local hospital cannot recruit staff due to a severe shortage of suitable and affordable accommodation. “At a time when our wonderful NHS has turned 70, we are very proud to be able to offer a solution to provide affordable accommodation for doctors, nurses and other health professionals and help ensure our NHS can continue the fantastic work it does for another 70 years and beyond. “We believe this project to be among the first of its kind in the country and shows the importance of the health and housing industries working together to help overcome some of the most critical issues facing our sectors.”
Resident Abhik Jacob said: “We wanted to relocate to this area as we have family nearby in Bolton and the cost of living is more affordable than in London. “Finding somewhere affordable to live close to where you work is very difficult, so Alexander Gardens is perfect for us and has made the stress of relocating much easier. We’re enjoying getting to know the area and it’s great that my commute to the hospital only takes 15 minutes on the bus.”
Salford City Mayor Paul Dennett added: “Affordable rented accommodation is crucial for attracting key workers to the city and helping them to build homes and lives here. “This development shows the power of our strong partnerships here in Salford and brings an empty site back into productive use. I’m delighted to see this and I wish everyone who lives here a very happy residency.”
Both ourselves and Salford Royal have been approached from housing providers and hospital trusts nationwide to share how this partnership can be mirrored elsewhere, with Alexander Gardens providing the blueprint for a sustainable model.