The community united to change a life

When Raleigh alumni Tom learnt of a elderly man, Carl, living in uninhabitable conditions in their community of Glossop, Derbyshire, he rallied locals from across the town to build him a new home.

Carl was an elderly man who frequented a local pub and over many years got to know the people who went there and the staff. For many years, Carl’s home life or health was not something that he would have ever discussed with anyone and consequently no one ever found out just how unsuitable his house was for such an elderly individual.

It transpired that Carl was living in conditions so dire, that his home was not fit for habitation. With no living family as a support to help him, Raleigh alumni Tom and members of the community came together to create a plan to create a new house for Carl.

“Having never met Carl before, I spent the next 8 months of my life undertaking a full refurbishment of every element of the property with a relatively small core team of volunteer builders and labourers.

“During this time, the landlords of a local pub successfully crowdfunded around £6,000 to support the materials cost as work at the property developed. Many local businesses donated thousands of pounds worth of material goods for us to install, and many local individuals (relatively unskilled) offered material goods, donations and their time to do anything that they could to help”.

Step by step, Tom and other volunteers from the town constructed a house for Carl that was much more than a building, it was a home.

“8 months after the real graft began, Carl walked into a brand-new house that was warm, economic to run, safe, and designed to meet his requirements given his existing conditions and disabilities. On top of this, he didn’t have to worry about how to pay for any of the work or materials as both time and materials were all crowdfunded or given freely.

“Carl is still speechless, even after months of having returned to his house! I think he cannot believe that so many people gave so much to help a man that many didn’t even really know before.

“Carl’s health is improving, and he is much happier – he is a new man.”

Tom volunteered with Raleigh in Borneo in 2010, where he believes he developed a sense of responsibility to help other people like Carl in any way he can.

“I think volunteering with Raleigh International made me realise that although you can feel at odds with the world, you really can help, in your own way. And that is exactly what we should all be doing. Regardless of our own sentiment on the ‘state of the world’ – we should all be getting out there and getting on with it. It’s our duty to use our time on this earth for purposes greater than our own basic requirement. It is in doing these good deeds that we are actually alive. This is the essence of life… surely?”

Read more about this inspiring community project on BBC News. Have you done a social action project in your community? Tell us all about it at

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