Finding freedom through independence
Emma Donaldson, 36, is from Hucknall in Nottinghamshire. She tells us about her quest to find a wheelchair accessible home.
My search for an accessible home took eight years. As I’m someone who uses a large powerchair, I put myself on the council list for wheelchair accessible housing. I’d been living with my mum and wanted to start a new chapter living with my long-term partner, Wez.
A long wait
It was a long wait of around six months between each viewing. My hopes would be raised when a supposedly accessible property became available, only to be swiftly dashed again.
At the start, I was offered totally unsuitable properties: one even had steps up to the front door. Finally, in 2021, I was offered a home which had what I needed. There was level access throughout, a large wetroom bathroom and wider doorways. Wez and I could finally have a home together!
The chance to move forward
Before 2021, I had been living with my mum. While this had been suitable in the past, it was time to move forward with my life.
I’d never been able to live on my own before and had very little independence. While I am grateful for the help from my wonderful mum, she has been looking after me for 35 years. I wanted to give her the chance to have more time for herself. I desperately wanted to move on and live independently, just like most people do!
People supporting you have a common goal of helping you increase your independence. So why should it be any different when it comes to housing? Gaining my accessible home has finally made me feel like an adult.
When you’re a disabled person, you have it drummed into you from such a young age – independence, independence, independence. This happens with every physio you visit, every hospital appointment, almost everything. People supporting you have a common goal of helping you increase your independence. So why should it be any different when it comes to housing? Gaining my accessible home has finally made me feel like an adult.
It’s important to me that I can continue to work in my accessible home. I am a volunteer controller at Nottinghamshire Blood Bikes. I work from an accessible desk at home, handling calls and directing blood supplies and other vital materials to where they are needed.
My mum sees the benefits of my independence. She was and continues to be, a great support. She’s a nurse, so is a wonderful carer, and of course, I really appreciated her help on a daily basis.
But the change is what we both needed to have even more fulfilling lives.
Sharing a home with my partner
Since moving out of the house, I can now share a home with Wez. We’ve faced so many barriers to seeing each other regularly. We had to get the bus or the train to each other’s houses, which was tiring and became very expensive. Since getting the accessible housing and living together, the positive difference is amazing. We used to go four days a week without seeing each other, and now we can see each other all the time. Our relationship has really improved as a result.
It’s been life-changing!