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SALFORD DISABLED MAN FORCED TO WALK DOWN 28 FLIGHTS OF STAIRS IN SALIX TOWERBLOCK
 

Star date: 20th June 2016 

DISABILITY ACCESS AND LIFT FAULTS FLOOR TENANTS AT CANON HUSSEY

A disabled man was forced to walk down 28 flights of stairs at Canon Hussey Court in Islington this month to get to a hospital appointment, after lifts stopped working, a recurrent problem in the block. Meanwhile, the inner and outer disabled access doors of the block are frequently faulty, potentially trapping people who are in wheelchairs or mobility scooters.

"The challenges faced in accessing our properties are inappropriate and counterproductive to providing the housing standards promised" says one tenant, of the recently privatised Salix Homes.

Full details here...


Canon Hussey Court Salford Canon Hussey Court Salford Canon Hussey Court Salford
click image to enlarge

It was just over two weeks ago when both lifts for the odd and even floors at Cannon Hussey Court on the Islington estate were broken and disabled tenant, Tahira Chakotai, or TJ, needed to leave his 14th floor flat to get to a hospital appointment. Trapped and unable to use his mobility scooter, he had to walk down 28 flights of stairs.

After the hospital appointment in the morning, TJ came back to Canon Hussey only to find the lift was still out of order, and, still without the scooter, needed to go out again to the post office to pay urgent bills. At the block he met his secondary support carer and disability advocate, Sharon Hooley, who takes up the story...

"I was seriously concerned as I know that TJ's doctor has told him not to even walk fifty metres a week" she explains "Normally he would use a scooter to help him get around so I immediately said I would go with him.

"On arriving at Canon Hussey Court, TJ was in so much pain" she says "I could see it in his eyes. His legs were so obviously swollen. He'd taken extra medication to try and cope with the situation so he wasn't his normal self. I saw the lifts and sure enough it was scrolling 'Out Of Order on 14th Floor'. TJ told me the doors to the lift were stuck open.

"While there, several people came by and I saw one woman pushing a pram, a lady with Cerebral Palsy and a couple more guys who obviously had some mobility problems by the way they walked" she explains "We took our time getting to the post office and then TJ said he had just enough money to get back in a taxi. By the time we got back to Canon Hussey Court, TJ was almost at the point of tears. I felt so helpless, and even suggested I call an ambulance he was so bad."

Instead, TJ called the paramedics who carried him back up the 28 flights of stairs on a stretcher.

"They are forcing a vulnerable man to suffer far too much" says Sharon "It kills me inside when I see the rubbish he has to deal with. Even the front doors are more or less useless when TJ tries to get his scooter or wheelchair out of the building."

Indeed, the Salford Star witnessed the `automatic' outer and inner disability doors of Canon Hussey not closing or opening properly, which means either disabled tenants can't get out of the block or the doors remain open, meaning anyone can walk in from the street without a fob, particularly since caretakers were removed from the building. Both the lifts and the doors have been a constant problem for all tenants of the block...

"The lift is like a roulette wheel and the trouble is that when you use a mobility scooter you never know when the lift is going to work and when it doesn't" TJ explains "So you can either get down in the lift and then be stuck on the ground floor when it breaks down, or you can't get out of your flat and go down because the lift is jammed on the ground floor. When that happens I'm isolated and stuck in my property because my support worker is not insured to carry me or support me down anywhere between two and 28 flights of stairs.

"The disabled access doors were fitted in 2013 because the block didn't meet DDA [Disability Discrimination Act] standards but they have never worked properly since they were fitted" he adds "They either slam against you, so even if you get downstairs in a lift that rarely works, you can't get through the door; and if the wind blows against the outer self opening door you definitely can't get out. So if you are a disabled adult in a wheelchair or mobility scooter you are isolated in that block and can't go out."

Indeed, in May, the inner automatic door sensor failed, and slammed right into his scooter as he was passing through, snapping the wing off. But TJ isn't the only `victim'.

"It's saddening to continue living with the lift problems so long after the Decent Homes Standard was poorly delivered to us residents three years ago" says Canon Hussey tenant, Andy Green "In my own experience the challenges faced in accessing our properties are inappropriate and counterproductive to providing the housing standards promised. Sadly Salix think differently to us, as they continue to ignore residents individually and collectively whilst making a mockery of their brand statement `Let's live, grow and thrive together'...

"They seem at ease to continue to ignore residents' requests to make Canon Hussey Court DDA compliant" he insists "I find the lift dirty and smelly at the best of times, which is even more frustrating when trapped in the event of breakdown. You expect when you report lift failure that the landlord would arrange repair. This doesn't always happen, leaving tenants - the same tenants who pay Salix to manage our homes - high and dry, stuck in or stuck out.

"Imagine if someone put 100 steps or more in front of your home regardless of your physical barriers" he adds "It's unnecessary and ignorant of Salix Homes and I hope they feel ashamed of their consistent failures to the people of Salford."

Andy and TJ's points are echoed by another tenant, David Hampshire, who says: "Since I have lived at Canon Hussey Court the internal security door has never worked properly. I have raised this as a concern and every time it's raised another workman is sent, more work is carried out but it's never actually fixed.

"I've also experienced issues with the security service either being a little pedantic and refusing somebody entry to my property because the password had expired a few days previously, or witnessing people entering the property who clearly shouldn't be there."

And another tenant, Digger Mosey, also confirms the problems with the lift... "It does break regularly; luckily I live on the 4th floor and can handle stairs" he says "Never did understand the motto `More than just a place to live' though!"

The problems aren't just confined to Canon Hussey Court. As well as being an advocate for TJ, Sharon Hooley, a disabled wheelchair user, is also a Salix tenant at another building...

"Salix have been making excuses for far too long now, I should know" she says "I'm living in a small two bedroom ground floor flat that is not suitable for proper wheelchair access, and I've been fighting black mould, damp, mice and silver fish. I've already been on the waiting list for over five years for a suitable property. The living conditions of my fellow disabled and vulnerable people in Salford is disgusting. And Salix, well, shame on them."

TJ has passed three tough disability assessments by ATOS - two for ESA and one for DLA - in the last three years. Amongst his other disabilities he has 67% arthritis in his body, not as a result of natural disability but as a result of trying to challenge the Canon Hussey stairs with epilepsy, since 2008 and falling over one hundred times, leading to sprains and fractures.

His doctor, he says, has sent 17 letters to Salix Homes stating that he should not be walking down stairs. TJ has had three heart attacks and three strokes, and recently had a community care order from Salford Council social services recommending a move. Indeed TJ has been trying to get Salix to relocate him to an appropriate property that suits his disabled needs for years, but has been either offered inappropriate accommodation or been given a refusal based on an `over 55' ruling. 

Councillor Paul Dennett, before he became City Mayor, assured TJ that Salix was `considering' its disability policies...

"I just want to assure you that the issue of the City Council's Housing Lettings/ Allocations Policy being Equalities Act compliant has been taken seriously" he wrote "and I've previously received assurance from Salix Homes that this will be considered in the forthcoming review of the Housing Lettings/Allocations Policy..."

That was a few years ago. Nothing has been heard since from the City Mayor. In the meantime, all the Salford City Council housing stock has been transferred to Salix Homes and effectively privatised...

"I wish some others had voted against Salix taking ownership of our properties" says Andy Green "How possibly could any organisation be decided as `The Preferred Option' when they were not competent before the take over?"



The Salford Star asked Salix Homes to comment on the lifts and disability access doors at Canon Hussey but the company refused.

See also previous Salford Star article on the problems at Canon Hussey click here




Danielle wrote
at 1:49:12 AM on Thursday, June 23, 2016
Does that tired of moaning people have a clue. None of the problems are TJ's fault they are salix's fault. They should fix everything. TJ is a friend of mine, so think before you insult people.

Tahir Chakotai (Independent Housing Advocate) wrote
at 4:18:57 AM on Wednesday, June 22, 2016
Well hello "BJ Over". I've just googled what a "Lift Gate" is, and the description is as follows. "When the truck arrives at your location, the truck driver will assess whether or not a lift gate is necessary to make the delivery. A lift gate is a device on the back of a vehicle that operates by mechanically raising during loading and unloading of goods". Not quite sure what it is your trying to convey. However, if you can find me a delivery truck, with a "Lift Gate" that has a 84ft reach to my front door, I would be grateful if you could give me the contact number for the company that hires out such a vehicle. Lol :)

Irony wrote
at 4:18:53 AM on Wednesday, June 22, 2016
B J Over, maybe your B J's wouldn't be over if you didn't have such a bad attitude. Get a grip? Looks like you'll have to!

B J Over wrote
at 1:38:31 AM on Wednesday, June 22, 2016
LIFTGATE GET A GRIP

Tahir Chakotai (Independent Housing Advocate) wrote
at 11:25:03 AM on Tuesday, June 21, 2016
I would just like to say a massive thank you to the Salford Star for publishing an accurate account of what it is like being disabled and living in a Salix Homes Property. I would also like to thank everyone for their comments. I would also like to comment briefly on the person calling themselves "Tired of moaning people". First I would like to start by saying that everything has been done to organise a move away from Salix Homes, however Salix Homes refuse to give me a reference, even though my rent is paid up too date, and I have never been served with an Anti Social Behaviour Order. Therefore I would need to somehow falsify my housing history in order to secure a tenancy with another housing provider, thus being in breach of my new tenancy, if the new housing provider realised what I had done. So "Tired of moaning people" are you advising me to break the law? You obviously have little or no knowledge of housing tenancies. When you are physically disabled, moving from a top floor property, with little or no lift services, is practically impossible, and would take a great deal of coordination and organisation. I have always noticed that those who refuse to put their real name to a comment, usually do not understand the situation being explained to them within a news story, nor are they capable of understanding how disability effects different people. I would now like to refer to the comments made by Vivian Hooton from Los Angeles. Vivian seems all too aware of the problems disabled people have, accessing services within a poorly run apartment / tower block. To have such an understanding, one would presume this person is going through the same kind of housing hell as me. That is unacceptable. But Vivian need not worry. If you fight the company or organisation long enough, they will soon back down. I now have a community care order, which overrides any decision made by The Salford Council and / or Salix Homes. The community care order, by law, entitles me to move to a different city within the UK. Therefore I have now made a homelessness application to the Homless department, which is now managed, by the very same people who caused this problem in the first place. That would be Salix Homes. So to those less informed, relocating from Salford is harder than it looks. And if I am finding it difficult, god help those with Learning Disabilities. That is why I completely agree with Michael James Felse's comment. Currently the Housing Allocation Policy is discriminating against those who are applying for adapted / suitable accommodation and who are under 55 years of age. A property should suit the needs of the disabled, and certainly not just their age. Mayor Dennett promised such a change would happen, back in October 2014. However Salix Homes also runs the Salford Home Search Service, which is a housing allocation system, where a person can bid on a property, if they show an interest. However Salix Homes has now age banded most suitably adapted ground floor properties for the over 55's, thus making it impossible for a disabled person under 55 to secure an appropriate adapted property. This is an direct act of discrimination, and therefore the Salford Home Search Scheme is breaching Section 149 of the Equality Act 2010. The housing legislation in the UK clearly states that the severely disabled and vulnerable are exempt from such age banding. (please refer to CAB housing website page). So I am fighting for change, not just for me, but for all the disabled people out there, who are experiencing the same accommodation problems. Kindest Regards, Tahir Chakotai (Independent Housing Advocate).

Michael James Felse wrote
at 6:30:06 AM on Tuesday, June 21, 2016
Mayor Dennett, a man of his word? Get this fixed or go. Service providers must be made to deliver.

Vivian Hooton wrote
at 1:56:38 AM on Tuesday, June 21, 2016
From Los Angeles I am appalled by this story in which I could easily insert myself. I agree strongly with Tahir Chakotai who said, " I feel that the restriction of vital services within tower blocks should be made a criminal offence." To add to the already difficult life of one who uses a scooter or wheelchair this type of service is abominable!

tom nolan wrote
at 11:00:25 PM on Monday, June 20, 2016
i can verify the problem with the inner passage fire doors.when the wind i blowing strong it pressurises the end from the direction of the wind .so its on the door jam side it is difficult to open . on a few occassions had to pull or push the door open for residents not strong enough to open it.i have told salix about this many times but nothing gets done.they did say a few years ago about fitting some sort of grill to the doors to release the pressure but cant see that , its a fire door.the wind comes in thru the smoke vents on each floor and now with the new windows that can be opened its only added to problem.

Bernie Sharp wrote
at 11:00:20 PM on Monday, June 20, 2016
Right now I'm shaking my head in disbelief. Salix your motto is "Let's live, grow and thrive together",does this just mean able bodied residents?? How the hell can you allow 2 lifts to be out of order....at the same time??? How on earth can elderly residents, disabled residents, mums and dads with children and prams leave their homes if BOTH lifts are not working?? It seems the lift situation is only part of the problems for residents on Canon Hussey Court, Salix please start to get your act together otherwise a major tragedy will happen.....and soon.

mary robson wrote
at 10:59:56 PM on Monday, June 20, 2016
I only have one word to say - disgusting

Tahir Chakotai ( Independent Housing Advocate) wrote
at 10:59:49 PM on Monday, June 20, 2016
Well said Sharon Hooley!!!

Tired of moaning people wrote
at 10:59:43 PM on Monday, June 20, 2016
Once again, Bla Bla Bla moan moan moan. we have a choice in this worldl. If Salix is so bad MOVE!!! I'm sure your reputation proceeds you Mr TJ. Be the change you want and stop bleating on.

Sharon Hooley wrote
at 2:55:56 PM on Monday, June 20, 2016
An excellent piece Salford Star... nailed it again. I do hope, this time, Salix start looking at themselves very deeply and ask themselves.... would they want to live in the same way? I've not been disabled all my life. Like everyone else, I took my mobility for granted. There's no handbook to help you work out what to do....you are very much alone. I am thankful that I have very good friends Who have helped me through this. In return I've learned and followed my heart and become an Advocate and activist to help others in the same boat as me. But seriously, anyone can become disabled.... why be treated differently and ignored? In my opinion, disabled and vulnerable people in Salford are not even classed as second class citizens. This has to change before companies like Salix end up gettting prosecuted for the deaths of vulnerable and disabled people. Wake up Salix!

Tahir Chakotai (Independent Housing Advocate) wrote
at 2:03:24 PM on Monday, June 20, 2016
Once again the Salford Star comes marching to the aid of the vulnerable, elderly, and disabled, who reside in Salford and rent a Salix Homes Property. I feel that the restriction of vital services within tower blocks should be made a criminal offence, using the NHS Safeguarding Legislation concerning Vulnerable or Disabled Tenants. Restricting a service that deprives those who are vulnerable or disabled of their liberty and / or causes injury, should be investigated as acts of abuse by the GMP. Since the lifts at Canon Hussey Court were refurbished in 2013, the lift service to the even floors has become little or non existent at times. I have been left in my flat with no food or medication, as a result of not being able to exit my flat. When I moved into Canon Hussey Court, I had only suffered a minor stroke, which increased the frequency of my Tonic Clonic Seizures, however after living in properties that were deemed "unfit for human habitation", due to the Salix Properties suffering from "Damp", combined with the falling multiple times down the stairs, I have now been left with severe physical disabilities / Severe Arthritis. Salix Homes are quite correct when they say "Salix Homes........more than a place to live". Their properties, in my opinion, are unkept, ill maintained hovels, that cause a great deal of suffering to those who are unlucky enough to rent one. I am delighted to see other tenants within Canon Hussey Court, are sticking together, and fighting this disgusting situation as a team. Only by fighting as a team, will our voices become heard, by those who, in my opinion, continue to abuse the more disabled and vulnerable tenants who reside in Canon Hussey Court. We all deserve, regardless of creed, colour, sexual orientation, age, gender or disability, to live in properties that are suitably adapted, free from disrepair, and have the correct supported services in place. Kindest Regards, Mr. Tahir Chakotai (Independent Housing Advocate).

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