Community group East Marsh United transforming troubled Grimsby estate with house renovations

A grassroots community group is breathing new life into an estate blighted by crime and anti-social behaviour by buying and renovating derelict houses.

East Marsh United started five years ago sweeping the streets of Grimsby's East Marsh estate.

Now the group is using grants to buy up abandoned and decaying homes to be restored for new occupants.

One of the houses renovated by East Marsh United

They now own eight homes on the East Marsh. One has been empty for years.

Paula Graves is part of the team who have have taken matters into their own hands.

She said: "All the meters were completely ripped out, and actually left live. So we’ve just had a metric meter put in. We’ve had water coming through the roof as well."

The estate was originally built for the fishing community in Grimsby, but became run down as the fishing industry declined. Around 300 properties remain empty.

East Marsh United aim to employ local tradespeople to turn the houses into new family homes, and to then rent them out at affordable rates.

Some of the houses bought by the group are in poor condition

Terry Evans has lived in one of the houses for two years.

He said: "My daughter used to suffer with severe asthma, and the house that we were in was covered in mould. Since we moved out it’s made a massive difference on her health."

He admitted being sceptical about living in East Marsh, saying: "You walk up and down this road and you can see a lot of the houses are in awful condition. We thought to ourselves, ‘this is going to be one of those areas where none of the landlords care.’

"Then we met East Marsh United and it completely changed our minds. If it wasn’t for them, we wouldn’t be here now."

As well as housing, the group hopes to revive other parts of the estate, including the former Mariners pub.

Group member Dan Humphrey hopes to reopen it as a community pub.

He said: "A lot of it is to be determined by the people who use it. If there are people who say, ‘I want to host a group' for whatever type of group it is… we’re not saying, ‘You can’t do this or you can’t do that'.

"Providing it’s legal and it’s something useful to the community, great. That might be a breakfast club, a religious group, it might be all sorts of types of events."

East March United runs a group called Kitchen Table

Just down the road in Freeman Street Market the charity runs a community group every week called Kitchen Table. It offers a chance for a chat and a catch-up.

Kelly McLaugh, who uses it, said: "I’ve come from sort of a broken family, and sadly I was the only one that went into the care system in a way because my voice wasn’t heard.

"It’s like this community brought me back to being me. And, believe me, they gave me so much love. And that’s all we need, really. I know it sounds clichéd, but it really is."