The Government-funded scheme to help keyworkers buy a home in high-priced areas like West London has transformed the lifestyle for hundreds of people in jobs vital to the community.

Those eligible include teachers in schools, further education and sixth form colleges, nurses and other NHS clinical staff, police officers and social workers.

This week PAT BRAMLEY meets two professionals who are looking forward to the festive season in their own home, thanks to an equity loan which doesn't have to be repaid until they either take a job that's not in the keyworker category or they sell up and move on.

Life has looked up for college lecturer Ted Asfaw since he bought a two bedroom maisonette with the help of the keyworkers' scheme.

After he separated from his wife, he almost gave up hope of being able to buy a property to make a home for himself and his two children on the salary he gets from the College of North West London where he teaches chemistry.

But that was before he saw an ad pinned up on the college noticeboard about the Key Worker Living programme in West London.

"I immediately contacted Keystart Housing Association which administers the scheme in this area and was accepted straightaway," Ted reports.

With the help of his Homebuy equity loan to put towards the £160,000 purchase price, he bought a splendid flat in Friern Barnet.

"I can't imagine what would have happened if I hadn't got the help from Keystart," he says. "I couldn't buy anywhere because I just didn't have the deposit. I needed two bedrooms and, long term, renting was out of the question."

The Government's million pound initiative has enabled teacher Fiona Bass to stay in a part of London she loves and grew up in.

The acting deputy head of Rosary RC Junior School in Hounslow works long hours. To add to her responsibilities she is lower school team leader, science co-ordinator and healthy schools co-ordinator.

Despite all that, she still didn't earn enough to buy anywhere locally without financial help. Fiona explains: "I'd looked around for a place but there was nowhere within my budget. I was seriously considering moving to a cheaper part of the country."

It would have been a real loss not only to the school but to the local community.

Then she got some information about the keyworker scheme through the internal post at school. "The head flagged it up and put posters on the notice board. It seemed like a good idea so I thought I would apply.

"The process was really straightforward. I used the solicitors and financial advisers recommended by Keystart as they knew all about the scheme."

With the help of her £37,000 equity loan she has been able to buy a two-bedroom house for £188,000 in Hampton. "It's terrific," she enthuses. "It has enabled me to stay in the area I was born and brought up in, close to my family and friends."

For more informaton about the Key Worker Living programme contact Keystart Housing Association on 0845 601 7729 or visit