As the UK celebrates Rural Housing Week, a Staffordshire couple are preparing to move into their first home together with the help of the area's leading provider of affordable homes for rent and shared ownership.
Thanks to a partnership between Stafford and Rural Homes (SARH) and a leading house builder, Stacey Robinson and fiancé William O'Hara now have the keys to a brand new, one-bedroomed apartment in the village of Eccleshall.
Stacey, 24, has lived most of her life in the area but she says she was facing a move away from family and friends due to the increasing cost of housing in and around the village.
"One bedroom apartments are especially hard to find and property prices in Eccleshall are well beyond our budget," explained Stacey, who works in a local nursery. "Finding somewhere to rent is just as difficult and until we found out about the affordable homes being built in Eccleshall we were considering moving away from the area."
SARH Chief Executive, Karen Armitage, explained: "Like many small towns and villages across the country, Eccleshall has seen spiralling housing costs that threatens the sense of community that make such places so attractive.
"We're delighted to be working with developers to make sure that key workers have somewhere to live and local families are not split up."
Stacey and William, who works in grounds maintenance, plan to get married in 2020 and say they are really excited to be moving in to the modern, well proportioned and energy efficient apartment.
"The property is ideal for us with plenty of space in a fantastic location that will keep us close to Stacey's grandparents," William said. "The process of applying for a home was also very straightforward and we were able to do everything online which was very convenient as we both work full-time."
The couple's experience clearly demonstrates the importance of the provision of affordable housing in the countryside, an issue put firmly in the spotlight by the National Housing Federation during Rural Housing Week (July 2 - 6).
Further information about applying for a SARH home can be found at www.sarh.co.uk