Having somewhere to live
We want a world where everyone with a learning disability can live fully in a community we choose
… A world where there is enough high quality accessible and supported housing for everyone who needs it
… A world where we can access everything we need and want to, whether that’s swimming pools, parks, public toilets, supermarkets, busses, gig venues and everything in between.
Elliot’s story – finding a place of his own
Having lived alone for three and a half years, Elliot, who lives in North Shields, knows just how valuable an independent lifestyle can be for people with a learning disability. However, a lack of accessible and inclusive housing has stripped him of his independence. “There isn’t enough accessible housing where I live,” he says. “After college, I had no choice but to move back home with my parents and brother, even though I’d love to live independently like any other young person.”
Elliot is currently training to get a job and would like to have his own home so he can enjoy living alone. However, in Elliot’s hometown there simply isn’t enough accessible and inclusive housing for everyone who needs it. People have to wait for new housing to be built or for existing housing to be adapted as there is little movement – once someone moves into accessible housing, they don’t tend to move out.
Even when there seems to be a suitable option, Elliot knows it is not always as simple as it may seem. He has viewed a number of properties but none have met his needs. “One house I looked at had no wheelchair access through the front door and there was a lift right in the middle of the living room. A lift is important for me, but I deserve to have a home which is designed like one – who wants to peer round a lift when you’re hanging out with mates?” he says.
Elliot also feels strongly about the lack of choice given to people with a learning disability when deciding who to live with and where. “If I choose to move into a shared house, the local authority won’t tell me who I will be living with. This seems really unfair when other young people can pick which friends to live with.
“I would love to live in Newcastle where there is more accessible housing, better transport, great pubs and is close to my football team. However, I can’t get funding to live outside my local authority which restricts the choice I have about where I can call home,” he adds.
When it comes to adapting existing housing, Elliot knows all too well this can be a frustrating and slow process after experiencing his parents’ house being made accessible. “It was great to have an accessible bathroom put in but it was a battle to get the funding,” he says. “In the end, the fittings were cheap and the bathroom was left half-tiled as most of the funding had to go towards the bath. Just because I am disabled doesn’t mean my home shouldn’t be nice.”
Elliot is calling on MPs to act so everyone with a learning disability can fully enjoy a place they call home. “I want to see a quota put in place for the number of fully accessible properties being built. It should also be easier to have changes made to existing houses,” he says.
“The Government need to recognise the obstacles that prevent people with a learning disability from living independently and choosing their own lifestyle. Even if the rest of the world isn’t accessible, your home should be.”
Hft supports people with learning disabilities to live however and wherever they choose, reinstating the choice that many of us take for granted. The charity is currently working to create new innovative housing developments consisting of family accommodation, community facilities and new purpose built accommodation for people with learning disabilities. This is with the express purpose of increasing community cohesion and ensuring adults with a learning disability can live with independence and choice.
Together we will call for:
- Improved accessible housing standards so all homes built in the future are accessible and adaptable
- Improved funding and regulations to make it easier to change existing housing to make it accessible, so people can have greater choice in where they live
- Increased availability of accessible and supported housing, so everyone can live in a home they can use and access fully
- Improved accessibility standards for public infrastructure so facilities and activities can be enjoyed by everyone