Michael Knight: Disabled Haringey ex-soldier makes plea for move from ‘inappropriate’ housing.
PUBLISHED: 07:30 21 February 2019
A disabled former soldier who calls Muswell Hill home has made an impassioned plea for help to find a better home – as spinal injuries he first suffered in the army deteriorate.
Michael Knight, 49, served three tours in Northern Ireland during the 1980s and ’90s, before leaving on medical grounds in 1996 after breaking his back.
Then after 17 years living in Muswell Hill and working in IT, he woke up to discover his back had re-broken while he was sleeping. The paralysis this caused left him unable to work or stay in his home.
He then moved into a council property in Tottenham, but – despite adaptations made when he moved in in 2016 – as his medical condition has worsened he feels it is no longer appropriate to his needs.
He said: “The doorways are too narrow for a manual wheelchair, and there’s no space for an electric one.
“I was always bashing my elbows, scraping the skin off my knuckles. I’ve got tendonitis in my elbow because of it.”
Michael added: “It’s a nightmare. I just can’t get any help to find anywhere. I’m back on the list but there’s just not anything coming up. I’m worried I’ll never get out of this house, really.
“It’s a huge mental anguish.”
He also felt he was pressured into moving somewhere inappropriate. He claims he was shown a property in Crouch End “up a flight of stairs”, before being “pressured” into moving into the Erskine Crescent apartment where he now lives. “They said if I didn’t take that one, there were unlikely to be better offers.”
He would like to move back to Muswell Hill because that is where his doctor and support are, and he said the 17 years he spent there were “the longest I’ve lived anywhere. I guess that’s why it feels like home”.
Armed forces charity SSAFA is working with Michael to improve his situation, while, a local estate agent – Aaron Cox who co-owns David Astburys in Crouch End – has been trying to help Michael find somewhere.
Aaron told the Broadway: “I’m quietly confident we might just be able to source somewhere for Mike. I saw his case and wanted to reach out, we’re trying to break the estate agent stereotype.”
Homes for Haringey said it “sympathised” with Mr Knigh’s situation. A spokesperson added: “We will continue to offer him support and work with him to find alternative accommodation.”
A SSAFA spokesperson said: “Whatever challenges the Armed Forces community are facing, they can rely on SSAFA for support.”