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Monday, January 30, 2023

Portrush: Multiple sclerosis patient in mobile home 'due to housing shortage'

A woman from Portrush in County Antrim has said she has been living in a mobile home in the seaside town due to a shortage of accessible housing.

Nicola Wedlock, 51, who has multiple sclerosis (MS), has been on a social housing waiting list since May 2020.

She was living with her mother, 75, in an upstairs flat but said she needed to move out due to mobility needs.

The Housing Executive said it made offers of accommodation but “these were declined for a variety of reasons”.

Ms Wedlock said: “They made me an offer for two bungalows which my occupational therapist turned down because they weren’t wheelchair accessible.”

She said she moved from her mother’s flat at least eight months ago.

“My mum had to lift my legs on to the next step to help me get up the stairs,” she told BBC News NI.

“It wasn’t fair on mum, it wasn’t fair on me,” she added.

“I was lying in a bed looking out the window every day, which is no type of a life to live,” she said.

‘I’ve had several falls’

The Housing Executive said it had not been informed that Nicola was living in a mobile home, something she disputes.

The organisation said it has tried to contact her several times in recent days.

“We received correspondence that advised us the applicant was living upstairs with a parent,” said a spokesperson.

“We would urge the applicant to keep in contact her housing adviser to ensure all relevant details are updated.”

Ms Wedlock said she used her savings to buy a mobile home but hoped it would only be a temporary move.

“My occupational therapist would like me to be in a wheelchair full time but I can’t do that in the caravan.

Nicola Wedlock

“I have to walk and I have had several falls.

“The next time I fall, am I going to have to really hurt myself before I get listened to?”

Figures supplied to BBC News NI by the Housing Executive show 79 people required ground-floor accommodation in Portrush in June 2022.

Fewer than 10 people were allocated it in the previous 12 months, none of whom were wheelchair users.

‘High-demand area’

A Housing Executive spokesperson said a high level of housing points had been applied to Ms Wedlock’s case.

“A ground floor, two-bedroom, wheelchair-friendly property has been requested,” they said.

“The applicant’s areas of choice are in high demand, with very low housing turnover and fewer properties in this area are suitable to ensure independence in the home.

“With a very limited stock of ground floor properties available in the Portrush area, it is difficult to predict when a suitable home will become available.

“However, we will continue to work with the applicant to find a successful housing solution.”

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