Stacey lives in Lenzie, East Dunbartonshire with her two children. She approached Housing Options Scotland looking for support in securing adaptations to her home for Aaron, her 10 year-old son who has chromosome deletion disorder.
Following a split from her partner, Stacey re-mortgaged her home. She wanted to stay in the area for the sake of her children but knew that, despite securing the property, there was still work to be done to make the house suitable for the needs of her 10 year-old son, Aaron, who has chromosome deletion disorder. She would need help adapting the property.
“I had been to the homelessness centre in Kirkintilloch to explore every option before re-mortgaging. I knew the property wasn’t fully suitable for Aaron’s needs, but there was nothing else. I felt like Aaron would regress massively if we had to move out of Lenzie. It took him several years to get to the stage where he was comfortable and happy to go to school so to uproot him and move just wasn’t an option. I decided to stay put and adapt the house.”
Aaron is a wheelchair user and Stacey was finding it increasingly difficult carrying him up and down stairs in the property. She recalls –
“I had many a sleepless night thinking ‘What am I going to do?’. Especially having just got the security of the house to now be thinking ‘How much longer can I continue carrying Aaron?’. If I couldn’t get it adapted, I’d almost be back to square one.”
To make the house suitable, Stacey wanted help to build an extension for a downstairs bedroom and bathroom for Aaron but, as she explains:
“It was a long drawn out process. I didn’t have the money upfront – if I did, I wouldn’t have had to speak to the council for their support. Initially we looked at the garage, but that wasn’t an option as it was too small for turning space for Aaron’s wheelchair.
The council weren’t being as accommodating as they could have been because I didn’t know enough about my rights. When I was dealing with them as an individual, they just told me that getting an extension never happens and it couldn’t be done.”
Stacey was visited by an occupational therapist who recommended she contact Housing Options Scotland. Stacey said –
“It was like a glimmer of hope – let’s explore this avenue, I thought. Then Moira and Olivia got involved and it was amazing – suddenly I had the backing!”
Moira and Olivia worked with Stacey to negotiate with East Dunbartonshire council. Stacey said –
“As soon as I contacted Housing Options Scotland they were so welcoming and supportive. They explained how they were going to come out, talk to me in my own home, get to know Aaron and get to know me and our needs. Then, straight away, their attitude was ‘Let’s get the ball rolling. No need for delays, no waiting to see what would happen, just absolutely let’s get this done!’.
I was in a desperate situation where I felt as though I wasn’t getting anywhere. The fact that at every meeting someone from Housing Options Scotland was there – and that I knew they would be there – was like gold dust. They were always liaising with emails and phone calls and supporting me every step of the way. When you’re fighting a losing battle and you have a brick wall in front of you in every direction, to have that support and to be able to think ‘This is doable’ is immense.”
As well as the emotional support that Housing Options Scotland were able to provide, Stacey reflects on the value of having experienced housing professionals on her side –
“It was especially useful that they had dealt with other local authorities knowing full well that the kinds of adaptions we were looking for had happened elsewhere. When I was dealing with the council as an individual, they just told me that getting an extension never happens and it couldn’t be done.
However, the influence of Moira and Olivia backing me saying it can be done made a total turnaround. Having the support of those who know inside out what they are talking about and who can respond with factual evidence straight away as to why the council are wrong was amazing. It was almost as if all these lifelines opened up and it was like ‘Whoa! This can work!’”
After many meetings, phone calls and letters, eventually the council agreed to help Stacey make the adaptations to the property for Aaron and the family. The difference the adaptations have made is huge. Stacey said –
“It’s fabulous – even the simple things like having the doorframe widened makes things so much easier, especially as Aaron grows. There are probably a million scenarios where you think – ‘that’s so much easier, so much nicer now’.
Aaron is massively changed too – he has that flow to get into his room and he has his own space. To have the peace of mind that this is (potentially) Aaron’s forever home and that he’s going to be okay, that’s a massive thing. It makes such a difference. It’s been massively beneficial for Aaron’s wellbeing, his social environment and for me too.”
Thinking about the whole process of getting the adaption fitted to her house, Stacey offered the following advice to anyone facing a similar situation –
“If anyone was in a similar situation I would be jumping up and down to tell them about Housing Options Scotland and how instrumental and supportive they are. You went from no support and feeling like you had no options to just knowing it was going to happen because of the way Moira and Olivia were.
It might feel like it’s a dream and not a possibility but if you have something in mind that you know is going to be life-changing to you then fight, fight, fight for it! It will make a massive difference in every aspect of your life and the pleasure and the peace of mind which you’ll get from that is tenfold.”