A YOUNG mother forced to carry her disabled daughter up and down a flight of 26 steps to their flat has spoken of her frustration and powerlessness at being denied a more accessible home by her housing association over the past five months.
Finlay Gray’s three-year-old Bronwyn was diagnosed with diplegia five months ago – a form of cerebral palsy which causes muscle-stiffness and prevents her from standing on her legs, walking without support or climbing stairs without experiencing deep pain.
Doctors suspected the little girl might be suffering from cerebral palsy eight months ago.
When her condition was finally ascertained, Finlay asked her landlord, Southern Housing Group, to allow her to move from her Peatmoor flat to a ground-floor property better suited to her daughters’ needs.
Yet five months on, she has claimed, the housing association has made no effort to help Bronwyn and she has been left with no choice but to carry her child to and from their Peatmoor Village Centre flat before placing her in a pram.
“My daughter can’t even walk and if she does after a few minutes she just collapses and cries in pain,” said the 20-year-old. “She used to wear special boots but they didn’t do any good.
“Her doctor has said it’s not an acceptable housing situation. There are 26 steps and then we have to walk along a corridor and then go down three more steps to get to our front door.
“I have to carry her up the stairs otherwise she is in pain and her legs get very tired.
“It breaks my heart to see her like that. We just want a flat where it would be easier to get to our front door.”
Finlay recently joined a house-swapping scheme in an attempt to find a more appropriate flat for her and her daughter but has so far been unsuccessful.
She added: “With Southern Housing it has gone in one ear and out the other. When I moved a year and a half ago I didn’t know she had cerebral palsy.
Troy Francis, regional director for Southern Housing Group, said the firm would work with partners to find Finlay and Bronwyn a new home but explained the process may take some time.
“I’m sorry to hear that Ms Gray feels we have let her down during this difficult time for her and her family,” he said.
“We have been in discussion with her while she awaited diagnosis for her daughter's condition.
“Now she has this, we are in a better position to consider the family’s options and to support Ms Gray in finding a solution that will meet their needs. We are arranging a home visit, as part of our housing assessment..
“Finding a new home may take some time and will no doubt involve working with other agencies such as the council and health services.”