“I say to everyone that it’s been a new lease of life,” says Rejhan, “and that doesn’t happen to many people. With the high ceilings and tall windows there’s just so much space and light. It’s so much better than our previous flat.”
Rejhan, a teaching assistant at a school in Earls Court, has just marked the first anniversary of moving into her new apartment on Bonchurch Road, where she lives with her teenage son and daughter, and is rightly proud of their home. For 15 years, the three of them had lived in a cramped flat in Wheatstone House; in comparison, their new three bedroom apartment is spacious, attractively-furnished and very much a family home.
“I love everything about it,” she adds. “How much more room there is, the extra storage space, finishes such as the kitchen cupboards and worktop which we got to choose ourselves before we moved in, it’s all perfect. Even a year on, it still feels like a brand new place.” In fact, Rejhan is so enthusiastic about their new home that she has joined the Residents Steering Group (RSG) for future phases of the new development. Meeting once a month, the RSG has input into the new buildings being developed, helping them to meet the new residents’ needs.
As one of only a handful of people in the group who have already moved into their new home, Rejhan’s input is vital – she knows first-hand what worked best and what parts of the move could be improved. “I think of it as trying to give something back,” says Rejhan. “I’ve been to my first couple of meetings and found it not only an interesting group to be part of, but think I’m having real input into the next phases.” She has also been acting as an ambassador for the new development, inviting other residents to come into the new apartment to see what it’s like and talk through the process before they themselves make the move to their new homes.
She is well-placed to speak about what worked well and what could have been improved upon when they moved in last summer. There was initially a leak in the hallway that took some fixing, with regular visits from Ardmore to mend the problem. But Rejhan sees it as the sort of minor glitch that new-build properties occasionally suffer from, and speaks highly of both Catalyst and Ardmore in their efforts to solve the problem. “It took a little while,” she says, “but Catalyst were always on my side and Ardmore did all they could until it was fixed.”
Indeed, having Ardmore workers visiting the apartment proved a real bonus when her son, Denis, secured a plumbing apprenticeship with the firm. As we’re talking, Denis comes through the door from work – it is his first week and he is working on the new buildings at Portobello Square – and is clearly thrilled with the opportunities the apprenticeship is giving him.
“I started taking an interest in the work Ardmore were doing to fix the leak, and in the end asked them if any apprenticeships were available,” he says. “I had to take some tests and show them I was serious about it, but I passed these and was fortunate enough to be offered a plumbing apprenticeship with them. It’s great to be learning a trade and to do so where I live is fantastic, although I’ve got no excuse for being late to work!”
To speak with Rejhan is to see a family that is very happy indeed. With a fantastic new home for them all and Denis just embarking on a new career, it is easy to see why.