DIY SOS: The Big Build Ireland, the show that rebuilds people’s lives by rebuilding their homes is back for a Christmas special featuring the six houses owned by the Kingston Charity Trust in Mitchelstown in the Church of Ireland Dioceses of Cork, Cloyne and Ross.
Mark Friday 30th December (6.30 p.m.) and Saturday 31st December (8.30 p.m.) in your TV schedules on RTE One!
The popular series presented by Baz Ashmawy will return to RTÉ One over the Christmas break with a two-part special focusing on re-housing Ukrainian refugees, a project taken on by the local Church of Ireland Dioceses, some of its charities and its parishes.
Charities (Kingston Charity Trust and Lapp’s Charity) and parishes in the United Dioceses of Cork, Cloyne and Ross, so far, have provided stand alone accommodation for 18 Ukrainian households (some extended families sharing accommodation) since the war started. This is in addition to the many parishioners who have received Ukrainian families into their own homes in the Diocese.
The TV programmes featured work on six houses undertaken by DIY SOS. The TV Series is officially Sponsored by SSE Airtricity. Build and Design materials were kindly donated by hundreds of generous multi-national, national and local companies across Ireland.
Episode 1 will be Broadcast at 6.30 PM on Friday, 30th of December and Episode 2 will be Broadcast at 8.30 PM on Saturday 31st of December.
Bishop Colton explains how it all started:
Our small Church of Ireland Diocese has been blessed greatly by a number of housing charities which, for centuries, have been providing houses to people in need or to those who wish to live in a sheltered setting. Before the war in Ukraine started we had been in negotiations with various State agencies and other bodies about the future of eight of the houses in Kingston College, Mitchelstown as we simply did not have the funds to make them habitable.
When the war started and the Government made its appeal, I mentioned the empty houses to our secretary Billy Skuse. It was a lightbulb moment. He said ‘I was thinking the same thing.’ We left it at that, but then I decided to lash out an email to a few hundred people saying ‘this is a long shot, but do you think this is a runner?’ Many said it was impossible. But within about a fortnight people had sent in €200,000 and, even more important, Charlie Daly, and a team of like-minded volunteers – among them Denis McGrath, Nik Haubold, Alan Dowling and a host of others – stepped up and said that they would voluntarily do the work on four of the houses. Then The One Foundation also came on board with a generous grant.
The team at Motive Television saw photographs in the newspapers of our team of volunteers, and before we knew it, by last April, DIYSOS were offering to do six of the houses.
It is an amazing, heart-warming story of voluntary effort, outpouring of generosity and solidarity.
Quite simply on behalf of the trustees and the families who have been housed I cannot thank everyone enough: all the DIY SOS volunteers and, in this particular context, the team at Motive Television, and RTE.
Kingston College in Mitchelstown, North Cork, is a community of 31 small, terraced houses which are grouped around a large square with a chapel as its central focus. The houses were built by James, fourth Lord Baron Kingston to cater for former tenants on his estate and have been providing housing to people in need since 1761. The trustees of the Kingston Charity Trust are three Church of Ireland Bishops – Dr Paul Colton, Bishop Michael Burrows and Bishop Adrian Wilkinson – as well as Mr Keith Roberts.
The Bishop of Cork, Cloyne and Ross Dr Paul Colton chairs the trust. It was he and Diocesan Secretary Billy Skuse who, having watched the plight of the Ukrainian people and their current exodus due to the Russian invasion of their country, as well as the Irish Government’s appeal for accommodation, decided to put out an appeal to try and raise money to do up some of the vacant houses to house refugees and their families. Among those first up to help and volunteer were Cobh-based Solicitor Charlie Daly and Mitchelstown Business man Denis McGrath, who also worked tirelessly to assist the DIYSOS team’s efforts in the lead up to and across the Build itself.
The support they received was beyond expectations. There are currently thousands of Ukrainian refugees in temporary homes in Cork, and the support and goodwill from the community towards them has been immense. They needed the help of Baz Ashmawy and his DIY SOS team however, to turn six homes around quickly and to draw on the existing support received from traders, suppliers and volunteers from within the community of Cork and beyond. Timing is everything with this project, and the DIY SOS family is no stranger to time pressure!
Six houses, six gardens and a communal garden for good measure, made this by far our biggest build yet and by turning it all around in this short time, we provided temporary housing for six very needy families from the Ukrainian community. Kingston College is situated right in the middle of the friendly and welcoming town of Mitchelstown and the community really rallied around us for this build. Volunteers from all nationalities came together to help these families, and the community garden itself provided further opportunity for local integration as our garden designer Diarmuid Gavin was well qualified to turn it into a legacy space that will benefit the town and the community for many, many years to come.