Notes from a small island of accessibility | #ForAccessibleHomes News

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Notes from a small island of accessibility

R.Crusoe, a disabled person living in Greater Manchester, shares his experience living in an accessible home amongst a neighbourhood of inaccessible properties. He is also a member of Greater Manchester Coalition of Disabled People’s (GMCDP) Housing Working Group. GMCDP, is a ground-breaking organisation that over the last 35 years, has campaigned for disabled people’s full and equal inclusion within all aspects of society.

The Bigger Picture

One of the key issues for disabled people over the past 50 years has been how to break free from institutional warehousing and segregation. This is commonly known as the ‘Independent Living’ Movement.

The right to live independently within the community alongside our friends and families is an ongoing campaign for many disabled people's organisations.

This movement includes not only housing, it also embraces information, peer support, equipment and adaptations, personal assistance, transport and the general environment.

To achieve this basic right, we need our access requirements to be mainstreamed. That is to say, instead of special schools, special buses, special housing and so on, we need accessible, mainstream provision. In some areas, such as transport, this is happening.

However, on issues such as housing, many disabled people still find themselves prisoners in their own homes. 

I have friends and colleagues who live in properties that are not accessible to them. Some are unable to use their own garden, bathroom or kitchen. Some disabled people even find themselves confined to a single room in their own home.

In 2020, the Family Resources Survey reported that there were 14.1 million disabled people in the UK - 8% of children, 19% of working age and 46% of pension aged people.

Yet, according to the 2018/19 English Housing Survey , only 9% of homes in England currently provide accessible features to ‘visitability’ standards. It’s a crisis that demands urgent and radical action.

My Little Island

Unlike many other disabled people, my home is very accessible. It was built in 1998 to Lifetime Homes standard.

Not only was my home accessible and met my needs when I moved in, but adaptions that became necessary as time went on were made easier because of its initial design and construction.

Lifetime Homes are exactly that, they are designed so, as people’s access needs change, for example due to age, their homes can change with them. They continue living in comfort without the stress and challenge of having to think about finding a more accessible home to move to.

That is not to say my housing situation has no drawbacks. For instance, my property was part of a development with approximately 50 new homes of various sizes and configurations. Unfortunately, only one other property on the development was built to even the most basic of visitability standards.
 

gmcdp

To visit or not to visit

This means, as a wheelchair user, I’m not able to visit any of my neighbours’ homes. Actually, I can’t even visit the one other accessible home on this estate because of the lack of dropped kerbs between our two properties.

As a result of this, I’ve never popped into a house for a cuppa and a chat, or attended any of my local Home Watch meetings. 

I’m on an island of accessibility.

The housing development where I live was designed and constructed just over 20 years ago. But the inaccessibility built into my little estate will continue to limit the choice and availability of accessible homes to live in and visit for the next 50-75 years. 

We need policies and building regulations that meet the housing needs of disabled people as a right rather than an afterthought.

They would be housing policies that meet the current and future needs of our population, young and old, disabled and non-disabled. 

Yours, Robinson

Work for us

A group of Habinteg staff celebrate #ForAccessibleHomes. The staff are holding a banner that says

Working at Habinteg

We believe that mutual commitment and shared responsibility is key. We are an equal opportunities employer and aim to be an employer of choice. Everything we do is underpinned by our four cultural values: Agile, Accountable, Ambitious and Attentive.

We offer a comprehensive and person-centred employment package to our staff. This includes:

  • Flexible approach to working week including full-time, part-time and job-sharing possibilities.
  • Welcoming, accessible work environments including remote working
  • Training and development programme
  • Ethical pension scheme from the Pensions Trust.
  • Life assurance scheme
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  • Cycle scheme
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Being open and honest about our performance is an essential part of our culture. This is why we place importance on independent assessment of our organisation as an employer. We are proud to hold a Gold Standard Investors in People accreditation.

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