Posts Tagged "lambeth"

And finally… some good news!

Posted on Apr 8, 2015 | 10 comments

And finally… some good news!

Several weeks ago, I published a post entitled: This is what being disabled and on the housing register looks like. I began: A mother with leukaemia. A five-year old daughter so disabled she can’t even throw an arm around the shoulders of someone carrying her up the stairs to her flat. Over two years on the housing register and no chance of even being shortlisted for a property. This is the reality of being disabled and living in housing completely inadequate for your needs. That was five weeks ago. This week we were shortlisted for a property! We are thrilled because, even if we don’t get it (five families are on every shortlist), it means that we can be shortlisted and, eventually, housed somewhere appropriate for us. And just to get in the spirit of things, here are some photos of my family this weekend at the Wetlands Centre in Llanelli enjoying some Easter weekend sunshine. Thanks everyone for your support – we genuinely would not be in this position if so many of you were not outraged on our...

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The video that changed everything

Posted on Mar 12, 2015 | 8 comments

The video that changed everything

Last week, ITV filmed May and I in our housing showing the reality of disabled housing. As we filmed, the reality of our lives wasn’t just highlighted in the piece, but starkly apparent to me. Only an hour later – before it even aired – we received our first contact from Lambeth council. I had to carry May up the stairs; we have four flights at various points in the house, inside and out. In the clip below, you can hear me puffing as I heave her up those stairs. They asked me hard questions, emotional questions that cut to the heart of what our lives are like. Not all of it made it in, but it did make one thing clear to me: we need better housing and people like us do as well. So, I’d ask you to take a look at the Leonard Cheshire Disability’s Home Truths report. They were the impetus to all of this happening and I’m grateful that they gave us the opportunity to share our story and change our lives. Because we are prioritised for housing now and it is only a matter of time – and not an impossibility – that something appropriate will come up. Here’s the video:...

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Hello, Lambeth? I didn’t expect this to happen so soon.

Posted on Mar 6, 2015 | 0 comments

Hello, Lambeth? I didn’t expect this to happen so soon.

On Monday, I posted about our housing problems. By Wednesday, we were finally placed in the highest priority band for housing. Now it is Friday. Only five days later and here today, a perfect example of how families like ours are treated. We used to have a wonderful social worker named Beverly. She was a force of nature. My housing issue would never have been an issue. She would have handled it on our behalf. That’s how good social work is meant to work. As an example, Lambeth are meant to pay us “direct payments” towards our care worker twice a month. Over the course of the last two years, Lambeth didn’t pay us. Months later, after much chasing by us and Beverly, they would catch up with their payments, but initially we were not paid. For example: in just the second half of 2014, we were not paid anything in July, August or October of 2014. It wasn’t just us. Other families across Lambeth also experienced this. Every time this happened, we were not informed. I only found out because I checked our bank account – a bank account we can only use for these direct payments, so one we only use once a month to pay our care worker. We’d have to pull money from our own savings – and thank god we had some – to pay our care worker. Because the thing about employees is that they don’t keep working for free. I’m sure many other families like mine across the council lost their care workers over this. It could take weeks or longer to receive the correct payment. And then, the following month it would happen again. This happened many times – even more than the months I listed above – in 2014 and 2013. Here is an excerpt from one of many emails I wrote to Lambeth about this: I have made several requests for a full account of our direct payments for the past year. We were owed money and paid different amounts every month. I still have no idea what we were meant to be paid compared to what we were actually paid. It would be a simple thing to print this out and send it to us, especially given the on-going issues with payments. This is highly irresponsible. We have a severely disabled child who is not independent in any way. Meanwhile, I have been hospitalised with leukaemia for the past month. These payments are essential for our family to survive. Our care worker will quit if you do not sort this out. Beverly was our soldier. She made people account for these funding problems. She helped us like no one else did, when many within Lambeth completely ignored us. Then, she went on long-term sick leave. No one told us. So, all the while these housing and direct payment issues are happening – for several months – I’m calling her and emailing and getting no response. Finally, one day I phone Beverly and someone else in the social service’s team picks up her phone and tells me she is on long-term sick. That’s the only reason I found out. From that point on, only duty social workers answered my calls. And none of them did a single thing to help us. When I wrote in my housing post about literally begging for help, it was one of these duty social workers who ignored me. Then, on February 11, I received a letter from the manager of the team saying that they would be assigning us a new social worker in three weeks without any explanation or addressing any...

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Disabled and without a home: what happened next

Posted on Mar 5, 2015 | 0 comments

Disabled and without a home: what happened next

On Monday, I published a post about our housing situation. The media picked it up and it wasn’t long before the Allocations and Verifications Team Manager for Lambeth left me a voicemail message.  In it, she asked me to email some documents over to start the process to move us to the higher band. She said she’d follow up with an email explaining what was needed and where to send it. That day? No email. The next day? No email. Wednesday, again. No email. Because, that’s the way, isn’t it? That’s exactly the problem. We can talk about the lack of housing, government cuts, how little disabled housing exists – these are major issues – but if no one is willing to return your phone call you can’t get anywhere. Furthermore, it turns out she had known personally about our case since 2013 when our wonderful social worker at the time was fighting our corner. Because of this, and only this, I had access to her email address. So, I wrote her. I won’t reprint the email here, but suffice to say: it wasn’t friendly. She emailed me back, but only after Matthew Bennett, our local councillor, emailed her again as well. She did apologise. But I still feel there is still a lot to answer about how Lambeth have responded to our case. However, the short answer to the question of “what happened next” is that we are now, officially, moved into the top priority band. It is a sad state of affairs that my post had to be picked up by the media to make that happen – there are plenty of other people out there who are in a very similar and trying situation who will not have that opportunity. And, I want to make it clear – despite what the government would have people believe about disabled people – we did everything by the book. We filled out numerous applications and had medical assessments. We had consultants and therapists write letters on our behalf. None of those normal processes worked. So, I’m thankful. To all of you who shared my family’s struggles. To Matthew Bennett. To the media who pushed for our story to be heard. To Leonard Cheshire Disability who asked us to take part in their Home Truths report that initiated my post to begin with. To my friends and family and our wonderful care worker – who are the people who physically heave our delightful but disabled daughter up several flights of stairs when I can’t. And, especially my husband. Fathers are often lost in these conversations. There is much you don’t know about him that you can read here. He is May’s main carer. Guess it’s time to start bidding on...

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This is what being disabled and on the housing register looks like

Posted on Mar 1, 2015 | 23 comments

This is what being disabled and on the housing register looks like

A mother with leukaemia. A five-year old daughter so disabled she can’t even throw an arm around the shoulders of someone carrying her up the stairs to her flat. Over two years on the housing register and no chance of even being shortlisted for a property. This is the reality of being disabled and living in housing completely inadequate for your needs.

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