Landlord’s ‘DIY SOS’ style efforts ensures lifetime home for disabled ex-rugby player

A former Redruth rugby player who became a wheelchair user following sudden onset health problems, has settled into a new lifetime home thanks to the DIY SOS–style efforts of social landlord Coastline Housing.

James Ball, since losing his mobility, had suffered years of unsuitable housing in the private rented sector, meaning that he was unable to gain access to the upper floor of his own home to do simple things like read his children a bedtime story and kiss them goodnight.

His plight to find a suitable home continued in a downward spiral as landlord after landlord told him that properties could not be adapted for his needs until, eventually, he requested a meeting with the Lettings Team at Coastline to see if some sort of out-of-the-box solution could come into play.

James explains:

“Each house that I got turned down for over the years felt like quite a punch. It seemed that, within the standard system, we didn’t stand a chance of ever getting allocated a home that would suit my needs. Until, that is, I met with the Lettings Manager at Coastline and explained exactly what my requirements were. She said ‘do you know what? Let’s see if we can actually do this!’ I couldn’t believe it was actually happening.”

So began a herculean effort by the Coastline Lettings and Development Teams to take a new-build house in Camborne and adapt it for James’ needs as quickly as possible.

Jo Morris, Lettings Manager at Coastline Housing, said:

“After meeting with James and his family and hearing exactly what they needed from a home, we knew we could call in exactly what was needed to make things happen for them. Alongside Coastline Services, the Occupational Therapist and other contractors, we worked hard to ensure that we considered all aspects of the property – doorways that were accessible for James’s wheelchair, grab rails where he needed them, accessible worktop space in the kitchen, a specialist shower in the bathroom and decking all along the back of the property to enable James to go out and enjoy the garden with his family. It was also important for me to listen to the family’s needs as well as James’ and to enable him to have independence within the family home.”

Most important of all, the landlord arranged for a stair lift to be installed so that there was no part of the house James couldn’t access.

James says:

“It’s made a massive difference to our life as a family. Before, I’d just sit in my chair and was depressed and in quite a dark place. Now it’s changed our lives completely and the whole family has come together again. The fact that I can now get upstairs to read my daughter a bedtime story and kiss her goodnight is just massive. It’s made the world of difference to us.”

James will be known to many people locally as a former semi-professional rugby player who played at County level and was a builder by trade, owning his own company locally. A routine visit to the doctors about some knee trouble soon revealed problems with his hip joints too, and resulted in five operations over the space of a few months as doctors battled to save his leg.

He adds:

“From being such a very physical person to being in the chair has obviously had a big impact on my mental health too. As a family, we’ve had some dark days, but now the future is looking bright. This home has helped me gain back some of my independence and I’m excited about the life we’ll enjoy together here as a family.”

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