Melissa Drake, husband Kelvin and their three children moved into a three bedroom HARAH property in a rural parish in the New Forest two years ago.
Melissa has lived in the parish all her life and attended the village school. Her family has lived there for generations.
Before being offered the three bedroom HARAH property, the family were living in a two bedroom bungalow in the village. Melissa was pregnant with her third child and the family were worried about the future as they knew their two bedroom bungalow would be too small for their growing family.
The family did not want to move out of the parish as their children were settled in the local village school. Renting privately would have been out of the question as these properties rarely become available and when they do, the rent is unaffordable and tenancies are insecure.
‘I would have struggled and continued to live in the bungalow rather than move out of the village, the three children would have had to sleep in the bigger bedroom and Kelvin and I would have had to have the small one’ says Melissa
The family were delighted to be offered the three bedroom HARAH property in the parish as it has meant they are now able to continue to live where their roots are. Grandparents are only a stone throw away making it easy for them to visit their grandchildren and help out with childcare.‘We were thrilled to be able to continue living here, I have lived in here all my life and living somewhere else more ‘urban’ would have been very difficult for me – all our social networks and family live here, it is nice and quiet and a lovely place for the children to grow up’ says Melissa
The family are now in a property that is suitable for a growing family of five. Melissa explained that in around 20 years’ time, she would be happy to downsize to a smaller property once her children move out to free a house for another family as she knows how it feels to live in a property that is too small for you and your family’s needs.
The HARAH development in this parish is mainly made up of young families and all the children play together on the green outside.
The family use the village shop and post office regularly which was actually on the brink of closure four years ago. It is important that young families can remain living in these villages to help keep these valuable local services open.
Kelvin has been heavily involved with the local youth club group for three years, encouraging local people to help get the club up and running again. This club nearly closed and it required the next generation of children to keep it going. A youth club group is held every two weeks. To date the club has had three meet ups and is getting more popular with 26 children attending at the last meet up.
As well as working as a refuse collector, Kelvin raises money for the local school, is on the preschool committee, is involved in organising the local village pantomime and is a member of the Romsey Old Cadets.
If people like Kelvin were unable to continue living in rural villages, these activities which are key in maintaining and establishing social networks would not take place. He is now talking about setting up local Scouts and Beavers groups. People like Kelvin are valuable assets to the community.