Dis­abled father begs his council for a bet­ter home

The Jewish Chronicle - - NEWS - BY DANA GLOGER

A STRICTLY Orthodox man who uses a wheelchair and can­not ac­cess the shower or kitchen of his flat has crit­i­cised his lo­cal council for not find­ing him a more suit­able home.

Michael Freed­man, 28, who lives in Edg­ware, Mid­dle­sex, has had to use a wheelchair since Jan­uary last year, after he re­acted to a pain-killing in­jec­tion given to him dur­ing an op­er­a­tion for ap­pen­dici­tis.

It left him in se­vere and con­stant pain and un­able to put any weight on his legs.

Mr Freed­man, who has two young daugh­ters, lost his job as a soft­ware de­vel­oper when he could not re­turn to work after his op­er­a­tion.

He says the sit­u­a­tion has left his fam­ily hav­ing to sur­vive on ben­e­fits in a two-bed­room flat which he claims is too small and not wheelchair-ac­ces­si­ble. He would like a three-bed­room flat, but says the council has not been able to pro­vide one.

He said: “All of this has hit us hard. I can’t use the kitchen be­cause it’s too small to get the wheelchair in, so I can’t even make my­self a drink. And I have no ac­cess to my shower at all. It’s not the way I want to live my life.

“We would be more of a fam­ily if we didn’t have to be on top of each other all the time. We are at the mercy of a dis­abil­ity.”

Mr Freed­man, who with his fam­ily at­tends the Chabad Lubav­itch sy­n­a­gogue in Edg­ware, added: “We have built up a re­la­tion­ship with the com­mu­nity here and don’t want to leave.”

His wife Sarah said: “Although this flat is too small, the council will not give us an ex­tra room so my hus­band can be in­de­pen­dent. It has said that, be­cause we only have two chil­dren, and they are of the same sex, that we don’t need an ex­tra room.”

Be­fore Mr Freed­man be­came un­well, he and his wife were buy­ing a three-bed­room house, but the sale fell through when he lost his job.

Their lo­cal coun­cil­lor, Brian Gor­don, has been back­ing the cou­ple. “I’m ex­tremely sup­port­ive of their case and would des­per­ately like to help them,” he said. “They need to stay within the eruv. They are des­per­ate.”

A spokes­woman for Bar­net Council said: “We are sym­pa­thetic to Mr Freed­man’s dis­abil­ity and have ac­corded his needs the max­i­mum num­ber of points that we can in of­fer­ing him new ac­com­mo­da­tion.” Council ap­pli­cants need points to qual­ify for hous­ing.

“Mr Freed­man has told us that he needs a spare room to store his wheelchair so we have given him the op­tion of ap­ply­ing for sev­eral wheelchairac­ces­si­ble two-bed­room ground-floor flats that are avail­able.

“Suit­able wheelchair stor­age op­tions can nor­mally be or­gan­ised for these, and one flat was within the area that he par­tic­u­larly spec­i­fied. He has so far cho­sen not to bid for any of them and we are working with him to find a so­lu­tion.”

Mr Freed­man said that he looks at the list of prop­er­ties ev­ery week, but that he still does not have enough points to bid for the most suit­able ones.

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