Politicians must commit to making housing more accessible by Delores Taylor | News

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Politicians must commit to making housing more accessible by Delores Taylor

Several weeks ago I ventured to the Houses of Parliament along with a fellow tenant to discuss the looming accessible housing crisis with women and equalities minister Penny Mordaunt.

If you asked me two months ago, I never would have thought I’d be discussing an issue I feel so passionately about with an MP that can actually make a change.

We talked about our previous experiences in inaccessible properties and the challenges of finding somewhere to live when you are a disabled person – especially when you also have a family.

That meeting felt like a milestone for all the campaigning I’ve done to raise awareness of the importance of accessible housing, however my story didn’t start then, but decades ago.

My disability arrived simultaneously with motherhood over 20 years ago.

I had to adapt myself to living in a way I wasn’t previously used to, while trying to raise two daughters. Back then it seemed as though planning authorities didn’t consider disabled people with families, as most of the properties I was offered before moving to my current home did not suit our needs.

In my previous property, access to the back garden was via a set of steps so it was almost impossible for me to spend time out there.

I realised that having access to a garden was a priority for me because I wanted to take my children outside without having to travel to an accessible park.

Also, as I spent a lot of my time indoors, having some green space to go out to was therapeutic for me.

Wheelchair user

There are also other factors that are really important when it comes to a home for me and my girls.

I had stopped cooking family meals in my previous property as I couldn’t bend down to open the oven, so having an adjustable cooker was definitely a big thing for me.

The kitchen I have now is designed with a wheelchair user in mind, which means my daughters and I can enjoy a home-cooked Sunday roast.

In June, my housing association, Habinteg, launched a report on accessible homes. Sure enough, it revealed some shocking statistics on the lack of accessible homes in this country.

As I’ve experienced the accessible homes crisis first hand, it’s sad for me to say that many of the revelations in the report were not surprising to me.

The findings did a good job of raising awareness of issues I’ve been speaking about for a long time. However, there is still much to do in order to tackle the barriers faced by disabled people in this country.

Having a properly accessible home isn’t just a luxury but the difference between a disabled person taking on a job or not – disabled people whose housing needs are met are more likely to be in work.

It’s great to hear policymakers talking about making facilities like train stations and music venues more accessible, but we can’t forget the place we spend the majority of our lives: home.

The meeting with Ms Mordaunt was an important step for me to raise awareness of this issue, which is so dear to my heart, but I understand that words are just that and we need to see action.

I’m one of the people who are lucky enough to have a home that is suitable for the needs of me and my family, but I will continue to campaign for the 13.9 million disabled people in this country until real change is made.

Accessible homes are a necessity, not a luxury. We just want to live in homes where we can get around safely, enjoy time with our families and live fulfilling, independent lives.