'I don't feel safe': Mother who uses wheelchair calls for suitable home

Gracie Smith in her wheelchair

Gracie says she feels unsafe in the flat because she is unable to get her wheelchair around and has to hold onto walls - Credit: Gracie Smith

A Romford family are no closer to finding their "forever home" some five months after speaking out about living in "unsuitable" housing. 

Gracie Smith, 44, Adam Smith, 51, Lewis Anderson, 16, and their foster daughter, who is also 16, currently live in a two-bedroom flat in Romford.  

Gracie suffers from scoliosis of the spine, arthritis in her knees, anxiety, depression and requires a wheelchair to get around.  

The family previously appeared in the Recorder calling on the council to move them into permanent housing because one of the children has to sleep in the living room and the whole family has had to live out in boxes.

They have been bidding for a permanent property for six and a half years and have had to move five times in that period.

sofa bed

One child sleeps in the living room, and Adam says this is causing "aches and pains" - Credit: Adam Smith

A Havering Council spokesperson said it has kept in "continuous contact" with Gracie and confirmed the family have been put on the "highest priority band" of the housing list while it "urgently" seeks alternative accommodation. 

Gracie said the flat is “not suitable” because it is accessed via steps at the front and back and has nowhere to store her powered wheelchair, forcing her to leave it by the front door where it could represent a fire risk.

She also has to use furniture to move around, which causes her a lot of pain.  

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“I cannot physically get myself up to get to my bath and I can’t use my kitchen as it’s too small," she said. 

“I don’t feel safe in the house as I can’t use the wheelchair at all in the property and I have to hold onto walls.”

Gracie Smith

Gracie suffers from scoliosis of the spine and arthritis in her knees. - Credit: Gracie Smith

The 44-year-old, whose husband Adam is autistic, said the housing issue is “causing a lot of strain” on their relationship.  

She said: “I feel like we’ve hit a brick wall with our housing situation – I don’t want to be here and it’s put so much strain on my relationship due to the pressure.

“It impacts our mental health and it’s a frustrating situation.

"We used to look forward to bidding but now we don’t even want to bother looking and there’s nothing ever on there.”  

A council spokesperson added: "It has been difficult to find the right accommodation because of the specific needs of the family, but we have asked that they bid for a property which we will then adapt to meet their needs."

Gracie said: “It is heart wrenching when we think we will be moving soon and there’s nothing to look forward to.”  

The council confirmed it will continue to support the family to find a more suitable home.

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