Disabled woman could be made homeless

By Craig RobinsonA WHEELCHAIR-BOUND woman said she felt "completely let down" by a council after it emerged she could soon be homeless because it has failed to find her a new home.

By Craig Robinson

A WHEELCHAIR-BOUND woman said she felt "completely let down" by a council after it emerged she could soon be homeless because it has failed to find her a new home.

Shirley Evans is staying at Monmouth Court Nursing Home in Ipswich and had hoped the borough council would find her a suitable property by November, the deadline by when she has to move out.

Although a new property was found for her in July, the council later withdrew the offer because the alterations needed would have been too expensive.


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Mrs Evans, who spent five years working for the RAF and Royal Navy, said: "It's not as if I haven't done my time. I've served my country and this is how I am being repaid. I just feel so let down.

"The council knew the type of alterations I would need when they showed me round the flat. I feel they shouldn't have offered it to me in the first place if it was going to be too expensive.

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"It's not just about me, it's about everyone in the country who is in this position. It's about time someone sat up and took notice."

Mrs Evans, who has 13 grandchildren, was moved to Monmouth Court on a temporary basis in January following an operation in which both her legs were amputated.

The 58-year-old was advised by Ipswich Borough Council to give up the tenancy of her old home when she came out of hospital because it could not be adapted for her use.

She claimed the council has assured her a property would be found as soon as possible, but she did not hear anything for seven months before being told she could move to a two-bedroom ground floor flat in Highfield Road.

Mrs Evans visited the property with her daughter, son-in-law, social worker, occupational therapist and a representative from Ipswich Borough Council.

"The flat had decorators in when we arrived and it was a bit of a mess, but I knew straight away that it could be my home. I was so excited," she said.

"Two weeks later my social worker visited me and said that I needed to sign the tenancy agreement, otherwise the borough council would withdraw the offer.

"I never received an agreement in the first place, but was assured that a new one would be sent out. It never arrived, although I did get a letter offering me the property.

"Then three days later I was told that they were withdrawing the offer because it was too expensive to adapt the home for my needs."

That led to a further meeting with the council last month, which Mrs Evans described as a "complete waste of time".

She added: "The meeting made me so angry and upset. We tried to explain to them that the temporary beds at Monmouth might not be available at the end of the year and that, therefore, my situation was urgent.

"I don't want to move again if it's only going to be for a little while. I really want to return home and live as independently as possible – I've lost my limbs, not my brain.

"I feel I have been discriminated against because I am disabled. The situation is making me feel ill. I have had constant headaches since this news and feel sick all the time."

An Ipswich Borough Council spokesman apologised for any distress caused to Mrs Evans and

Added it was treating her housing need as a priority.

"We are very sorry for upsetting Mrs Evans. The flat in Highfield Road was not to full wheelchair standard and not really suitable for an adaptation, but we should not have raised her hopes before the necessary checks were made," he said.

"However, we are treating Mrs Evans as a priority and are doing everything we can to find somewhere which better meets her needs as quickly as possible."

craig.robinson@eadt.co.uk

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