Disabled Barry woman's housing plea
A DISABLED former outdoor pursuits instructor from Barry says she feels ‘confined to the indoors’ and fearful over her safety, after failing to secure suitable accommodation.
28-year-old Gemma Rawlins suffers from complex regional pain syndrome - a chronic progressive disease causing pain, severe swelling and changes to the skin.
She says her privately rented flat in a communal block in Cadoxton is unsuitable for her disabilities, and wonders how she would cope in the event of a fire.
But despite being on the Homes4U Gold plus list, and supported by medics and social workers, she has not been able to find alternative accommodation.
And she says she feels trapped - and that her lack of independence is costing services more than if she were able to get out and pursue a productive life.
Gemma, of Church Road, said she would like to develop her sporting interests – having been inspired by the London 2012 Games.
"Homes4U are aware of me and they are trying their best, but I can't get out by myself and I have got carers coming in four times a day,” she said.
"They have to give me a wash, I can't use a bath, and I use a commode.
"If there was a fire I can't get out to open the door.
"My sister does as much as she can, but it's not fair on her,” she added.
"I really would like to go down to the shop myself. The last little independence I had has been taken away from me, and I just want my life back."
Vale MP Alun Cairns said the difficulty was the lack of suitable properties, and suggested planners should consider accessibility and going beyond what is required by law.
"Gemma is in an impossible position,” he said.
'"The local authority needs to understand what her needs are."
Vale AM Jane Hutt added: "I am working closely with the Vale Council to support disabled people like Gemma to access suitable housing, so that she can maintain her independence."
Vale Council operational manager (public sector housing) Mike Ingram confirmed Ms Rawlins is registered on H4U and has been listed as highest priority under the Accessible Homes Scheme.
"Unfortunately, even though there has been significant council investment in adapting our homes, spending almost £2m in the last three years, it is not always possible to assist applicants as quickly as we would like due to scarcity of adapted stock,” he said.
"We have spoken to Ms Rawlins and her representatives to explain the position and are continuing to discuss the potential provision of new purpose built accommodation with our partner social landlords to help in this regard.
"In the meantime the council will continue to explore all avenues to assist Ms Rawlins as quickly as possible."