13.9 million Disabled people in the UK. 1.8 million have an accessible housing need – 580 thousand are of working age.
We’ve heard government saying like ‘Build better, build beautiful’ or the newest one ‘Build, build, build’. Remember the famous movie of a young farm girl, clicking the heels of her sparkling, ruby red slippers and longingly chanting the words, “There’s no place like home, there’s no place like home…” Her tale isn’t a far cry away from most disabled people’s dream of wanting their own forever home.
Getting on the property ladder can be challenging for most millennial, it’s something most of us dreamt about when we where younger leaving our parents and setting up home and living independently. But if your like me – have a disability finding the funds to put a deposit down Is the least of our worries.
only 7% of English homes currently provide even the most basic accessibility features.
I first came face to face with the barriers of accessible housing when I was diagnosed with a rare form of Muscular Dystrophy a Progressive muscle wasting condition in my 20’s, Learning to navigate the world differently to my able-bodied peers was a new experience as I was once able-bodied and able to use stairs, kitchen, bathroom.
My world, my home was becoming inaccessible having others do everything for you may sound idyllic to some, but actually It can feel like your own version of a prison at times mentally, there is nothing worse than having to wait for others to help do basic daily tasks, knowing you are half capable of being independent but your environment is disabling you.
For so many disabled people the impact of not having access to an adapted home can be devastating. For example, disabled people living in inaccessible homes are four times more likely to be unemployed the impact can also mean they become isolated from society, having a detrimental effect on their mental health and mental wellbeing. It’s definitely did for me.
93% of homes in England do not even meet basis access standards.
This means even if I wanted to visit friends, go to a party or bbq it’s a 7% chance of saying yes because if I cannot access a bathroom get thought the front door or even to the front door I’ll be the one waving at you from the pathway or drive way. Feeling like part of Society is vital yet so many disabled people are being constantly excluded.
I believe, living independently is a huge factor to leading a happy life, that’s way I count myself lucky to have my own accessible home provided by Habinteg housing association, just one of the few providers that provide and recognise the need for accessible homes.
Having the appropriate housing can dramatically improve disabled people’s ability to live independently.
So, why is my accessible home convenient for me?
Firstly, all the doors are wide enough for my wheelchair. I don’t have to worry about not being able to go into certain rooms or possibly damaging the door frames with my wheelchair. Secondly, the kitchen counters can be adjusted to the appropriate height for me to reach, I also have a wet room which allows me to move around freely and not worry about how much water I spill. Some of these features may not sound like a big deal, but for a wheelchair user, these features are the difference between an independent and restricted life.
Those whose homes do meet their accessibility needs have reported improved health and wellbeing. However, an accessible home is not only beneficial to the people living in it. Just having the right adaptations to the home can create significant savings to the public purse, reducing social care costs for local authorities and health costs for the NHS as the number of accidents at home will significantly reduce.
It’s not a luxury to live in a suitable home and I believe everyone, old and young, disabled and non-disabled, deserves to have somewhere to live where they can feel at home. Being a disabled person means you’ll constantly face mental and physical challenges so why not make the few changes to new builds that make it easier for people and families with a disability.
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