Disabled Shirebrook man reveals struggle after facing abuse while living in council house not adapted for his needs

A Shirebrook man battling a range of illnesses has revealed his struggle after enduring anti-social behaviour at a property he said was not adapted to meet his needs.

Wednesday, 16th March 2022, 12:58 pm

Dion Fox, aged 51, lives in a bungalow provided by Bolsover Council in Shirebrook. He is a wheelchair user and contends with a range of illnesses including arthritis, gastroparesis, double incontinence, chronic pain and short-term memory loss.

As well as dealing with these conditions, the former prison officer, originally from London, has faced 12 years of housing issues.

In 2010, the council house he was living in was flooded after a mains burst. The property was left with damp and he was attacked twice before finally being moved to temporary accomodation in 2015 – where he has remained ever since.

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Dion has Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome and uses a wheelchair, but says his council house is’ not suitable for his needs.

“I’ve got an occupational therapy report which says the house isn’t suitable for my needs,” he said. “The door frames are too narrow to get my wheelchair through and the kitchen worktops are too high. I’ve also got subsidence and repairs that have never been done.

“I can’t sit out in my back garden, because people come past and tell me to ‘f*** off back to London’.

“I’m sleeping in the living room – they have provided a hospital bed, but there’s no room for a sofa.

“I’ve no carpets, because they told me it was temporary, that I would be out within six months, but it's coming up to 10 years.”

Dion is also raising funds for a new wheelchair to improve his independence.

As Dion’s bungalow was only considered to be temporary accommodation, an application for adaptations by Derbyshire Council was rejected by the district council in 2016.

In 2019, the Local Government and Social Care Ombudsman ruled the district authority had failed to follow up on agreed actions following a meeting concerning Dion’s search for a new property in 2017.

The council apologised, but he is still waiting and said he was struggling to cope in his current accomodation.

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Dion said he struggles with the narrow doorways at his property.

Vulnerable

“I just want out, but the council isn’t going to do anything,” he said. “It’s like they say, to find out about a culture, look at how they treat their most vulnerable, and I’m afraid to say I’m in that category.

“It’s not good enough.

“Why would I want to stay in an area where people are abusing me?”

Despite his struggles, Dion is focused on the future, and is trying to raise £17,000 for a new wheelchair which he hopes will boost his independence.

“I want to get on with my life,” he said. “I love field target shooting, and one of the reasons I need the new wheelchair is so I can get over fields to go and do that, but I can’t go out and do it because I haven’t got the chair. I want to be independent.

“I’m 51 and have been told I can never go back to work, but I want a future.”

A district council spokesman said: “The council is unable to comment on individual personal circumstances, however, following the information provided, the council will contact Mr Fox directly to see what support we are able to offer him.”

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