Letchworth woman has ‘had enough’ after asking housing association for ramp

Michelle Sheppard has asked Howard Cottage Housing Association to put a ramp in for her, to no avail

Michelle Sheppard has asked Howard Cottage Housing Association to put a ramp in for her, to no avail. Picture: Steve Starkey - Credit: Archant

A Letchworth woman says she faces being moved from her home after repeatedly asking her housing association to install a ramp, to no avail.

Michelle Sheppard, who has spinda bifida and uses an electric wheelchair, says she has spoken to Howard Cottage Housing Association about having a ramp built on a number of occasions.

She told the Comet: “I’ve screamed, shouted and tried to be nice about it and all they want to do is tell me I’ve got to move, but I have so many friends around here. My neighbours are brilliant.

“I’m just asking for a little bit of help and I’m getting nowhere. I’ve had incidents where I’ve nearly fallen out of my wheelchair. I don’t understand because they have done it for other people. I’m not asking them to rebuild the entire flat.

“I have just about had enough now, I don’t want to be stuck inside all day, it gets too hot.”

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To access the garden, Michelle can go round to the end of the building, where there is a ramp. But she says “having to go the long way around is very difficult”.

Michelle added that she has been having a number of health issues at the moment, and the situation has caused her stress.

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With limited contact with her family members, she added that her neighbours have become her closest friends and her carers.

Howard Cottage chief executive John Welch has told a very different story.

He said: “In mid-July the resident came to our head office in Letchworth to request a ramp so that she can access the communual garden from the rear of her flat.

“Her social worker is supporting her with this request and has made a referral to Herts County Council, which will assess the request in line with its policies.

“As part of our community visiting service, the scheme manager at our Kingfisher Court sheltered scheme, which is located next door to the resident’s property, visits her regularly at her home, to check how she is doing and to find out if there’s anything we can do to help her.

“During these conversations, the resident has recently expressed an interest in moving to our Tabor Court flexicare scheme, which can provide residents with extra care and support. We have contacted her to take this forward and are waiting to agree on a date when we can carry out an assessment. In the meantime, we will continue to support her with whatever she chooses to do.”

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