To provide two-year-old Sadie Jenkins, who was born with a range of complications, with a safe home environment, including a downstairs toilet to allow her parents and carers to remain close to her whilst using the bathroom, as well as landscaping the garden to create a safe outdoor space, creating a playroom and carry out improvements to the family home.
Sadie Jenkins, who turned two in February 2018, was born with a range of complications including a hole in her heart and a narrowing of the aorta, as well as Pierre Robin sequence - a set of abnormalities affecting the head and face including a small lower jaw and blockage of the airways. Sadie underwent surgery within weeks of being born and was also diagnosed with tracheobronchomalacia, effectively a ‘floppy’ trachea, and had to undergo an emergency tracheotomy.
Sadie - whose father Carl is a plasterer - spent the first 10 months of her life in hospital and when she finally came home, her tracheotomy meant she couldn’t sleep upstairs with the rest of her family but had to stay in a makeshift bedroom in the front room. Without toilet facilities downstairs, her parents and carers had to go upstairs, leaving Sadie alone in a potentially dangerous situation. Sadie had also never had her own bedroom and was unable to play in the garden due to safety concerns.
Sadie’s project started on February 24th, with the finishing date and handover to the Jenkins family planned for March 4th. Project leads had visited the Jenkins' family home in Hoddesdon, Hertfordshire and planned a scope of works, as well as drawing up a roster of volunteers with the appropriate skills.
Band of Builders paid for the family to spend the duration of the project at Center Parcs not only to give them their first holiday as a family, but to ensure they would not have to endure the disruption of the build.
The project, using donated materials and cash from Jewson won by Band of Builders founder Addam Smith as part of its Building Better Communities Awards, was one of the hardest Band of Builders had undertaken.
While the planned works were relatively straightforward and easy to complete in the timescale planned, the week of the project coincided with the arrival of the ‘Beast from the East’ that brought sub-zero temperatures to the UK, causing widespread disruption across the country. The freezing temperatures and snow made a hard project almost impossible, with deliveries struggling to get to the street and volunteers battling to finish the works on schedule.
The volunteers involved in Sadie’s project had to resort to blowtorches to soften the ground, appeals for extra equipment like heaters from local tradesmen as well as extra gritters on the street to allow deliveries to arrive. Delays to the planned schedule results in those involved working through the night to make sure the project was completed by the time the family returned from their holiday.
After an emotional handover, Sadie's mum Nicola said: “The work you have done is incredible and will make a huge difference to Sadie’s quality of life. She now has a space to live in that doesn’t just look like a hospital room has landed in our front room.”
Carl added: “This has made a huge difference to us - the extra space means I’ve even got my dining room table back so we can finally eat together as a family again. This really has changed everything.”
Over the course of the project, adaptations made to the Jenkins’ property that will allow Sadie and her family to better deal with Sadie’s condition.
Downstairs toilet - the installation of the downstairs toilet allows Sadie’s parents and carers to remain close to Sadie, reducing any time away from her and minimising potential risks should her tracheotomy become blocked.
New boiler - the Jenkins’ previous boiler was at the end of its anticipated lifetime and the installation a new one removed a further financial strain on the family.
Internal decoration - Specialist plaster and paints were used to improve the family home and ease any irritation to Sadie’s breathing difficulties. All paint and decorating products were water based and eco friendly. No VOCs (volatile organic compound) were used, greatly reducing any harmful chemicals.
Garden - Landscaping of the garden turned it into a safe space for Sadie as well as removing any maintenance requirements, allowing her parents to concentrate their time on Sadie’s care. The garden was levelled and artificial grass laid, removing any hazardous dips and providing the opportunity for Sadie to walk on a flat, soft surface.
Old toys and dated play equipment were replaced with a purpose-built swing allowing safe seating for Sadie. A raised flower bed was installed, set at a height to allow Sadie to explore the the types of plants/shrubs using various senses, such as visual, smell and touch.