Michael Faulkner swapped living in a flat for a bungalow five years ago after becoming concerned about his mental and physical health.
“My flat was lovely but I had developed arthritis which made getting up the stairs difficult,” he says.
“Plus I felt I was becoming isolated so I had concerns for my mental wellbeing.”
Michael put his name down for a DAMHA bungalow in Seaham and fulfilled a lifetime ambition when he secured one.
“Ever since I was a child I had looked at those bungalows with their gardens and thought how nice it would be to live there,” he recalls. “Now I am it’s wonderful. I’ve been able to build a fishpond and have a shed.”
Michael, 65, was elected as the Residents’ Representative for the group of 20 DAMHA bungalows.
He says: “Residents like their privacy so they don’t want me knocking on their doors everyday. They know I’m here if there’s a problem and that I will then raise it with head office.”
Michael has seen how elsewhere communities have been blighted by drugs, anti-social behaviour and other problems as a result of absentee landlords caring little for the behaviour of tenants.
“I have to say DAHMA are excellent landlords. If any issue is raised it’s dealt with immediately. The homes are all well maintained.”
As a teenager Michael studied to be a priest but left, he says, through teenage rebellion. He then qualified as a nurse and specialised in psychiatric nursing for the elderly. Though he’s recently retired, he still works part-time with dementia sufferers in a local care home.
Aside from his gardening, he spends time visiting his sister Kathleen and enjoys reading books on history or philosophy, trips to the cinema and looking after his two cats.
“The rules say you can only have one pet but I had two kittens when I moved here and they said that would be ok,” says Michael. “It shows how DAMHA look to be flexible as landlords and help residents when they can.”