Disabled woman forced to 'live like a dog' in Little Venice flat
PUBLISHED: 16:40 26 April 2012
A disabled ex-youth worker from Little Venice says she is living "like a dog" after being forced to drag herself around the floor of her unmodified flat which she has been unable to leave for 10 days.
Tracey Bennett, 37, lives in a third-floor council flat in John Aird Court, which has not been adapted to allow her to use a wheelchair indoors.
The complex regional pain syndrome (CRPS) sufferer says when her pain is at its worst, she is unable to use her crutches and is forced to drag herself around the floor.
Having broken her arm four times on the steps leading up to her flat, Ms Bennett says she feels trapped indoors and has urged Westminster Council to find her a suitable ground floor property.
“It’s morally wrong,” she said. “I’m nearly 40 and I’m dragging myself on the floor like a dog.
“If I had a dog and didn’t take it out for five days the RSPCA would come along, fine me and ban me from having a dog for life. But I’m being failed by everybody.”
Ms Bennett had lived in the flat for six years when she suffered a trampolining accident in 2006.
She was diagnosed with the rare condition CRPS, which makes her legs and arms difficult to use. She last broke her arm on the stairs in February but says there are times when she is unable to use her crutches even when she is not injured.
“It is worse when I have a broken arm but I have been on the floor for days at a time for the past three years and the council knows all about that,” she said.
“I have had to sleep on the floor on and off for three years so it’s become the norm. If I could get a house on the ground floor my life would change dramatically.”
Westminster’s occupational health department agreed that she should be urgently rehoused in a ground floor flat in 2007.
But Ms Bennett claims despite submitting 10 housing applications since then, the council always says it has not received all the relevant documentation.
Westminster health boss Cllr Rachael Robathan said the council has made “every effort” to help Ms Bennett since becoming aware of her latest broken arm and has agreed to double her care time from one hour a day to two hours.
“Ms Bennett first applied to our housing options service in 2008 and is able to bid on properties which become available,” she said. “The position is that she has yet to place a bid.
“This is a very difficult case and we want to make sure that we do everything we can to help Ms Bennett.”
She added that Westminster’s housing options team will carry out a further medical assessment.