Disabled Sutton woman forced to ‘slip down stairs on bottom to leave home’

A disabled Sutton woman said she has to climb stairs on her bum to get out of her house because a lift which took a year to install is “unusable”.

Tara Kerridge said she had been “learning in circles” with her housing association, Metropolitan Thames Valley Housing (MTVH), trying to get them to ensure her home, on the Roundshaw Estate, was accessible.

The mother-of-two has cerebral palsy and when she had an accident in her home in February, not only was she unable to use the ladder to get her out, it blocked access to the stretcher being used by paramedics who she says took even considering it. out the window to take her to the ambulance.

Tara told the Local Democracy Reporting Service (LDRS) that it takes her up to 30 minutes to leave the house.

She said: “They really let me down. I can’t even use the lift they have installed because the way the stairs go means it’s too close to the railing.

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“I can’t bend my knees back far enough to get my feet out of the way, so I either lock my feet or go down the stairs, which I can’t do either, so I have to slide down. my ass.”

Tara moved to Roundshaw, which is between Wallington in Sutton and Purley in Croydon, in July 2022 after escaping domestic violence in her native Yorkshire.

Tara says she was promised a home that would be fully affordable and suitable for her needs.

However, upon arrival, Tara found that the vital elevator she had been promised had not been installed.

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When MTVH installed the stairlift about a year later, Tara was excited about how it could transform her everyday life, but quickly realized she couldn’t use it.

She said: “I’m just going full circle, I just want to be somewhere on the property that I can use and get in safely.”

Tara currently has to rely on the support of her neighbors and her five- and six-year-old children for household support.

Fellow Roundshaw resident and local business owner Shen Mehmet Inalpolat helped by providing Tara with her own mobility scooter, which she named Tallulah.

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Shen Mehmet Inalpolat (Image: Facundo Arrizabalaga)

Tara added: “The area is brilliant and the people are brilliant, it’s just my housing situation.

“The only reason I was able to get out today is because I have help going down the stairs and helping me when I’m out.

“What makes it worse is that I didn’t have a legal tenancy from July to October 2022 because they didn’t exchange properly, then put me in rent arrears and expect me to pay it even though it’s They. blame.”

She accused MTVH of having “no empathy whatsoever”.

Tara is not the only Roundshaw resident concerned about the quality of service provided by MTVH since it took over as Roundshaw’s official housing association.

Groups of residents gathered in the Phoenix Center in Roundshaw last week to tell the LDRS their problems.

A couple who had lived at the property for years claimed they had been incorrectly billed by MTVH and subsequently paid their rent.

They told the LDRS: “They charged twice the inflated rent. There is a third party that handles direct debits, their mistake has put me in minor rent arrears for over three years.

“It makes me laugh, they’re quiet when we go to them for repairs, but as soon as we fall behind on rent, they spam our phones with notifications.”

One mother, who has lived on the estate all her life, told LDRS: “There are so many middlemen, there are so many people to go through, when we say ‘look we’re paying rent to be here’.

“I know it’s council-owned, I know it’s social housing, so it’s not going to be fabulous homes, but we still deserve to be able to sleep in a house where there’s no gaps in the windows and we’re not freezing to death.”

Roundshaw Estate was built on the site of the old Croydon Airport in 1967.

The area was initially dominated by brutalist high-rise apartments, notorious for attracting the kind of anti-social behavior that has become synonymous with the area.

While a regeneration in 2000 has done much to change the quality of some homes and improve the reputation, residents believe the quality of some of the homes on the estate is still a cause for concern.

Several residents spoke of their frustration with delayed repair work on everything from heating and plumbing to installation and decorating.

While these jobs are meant to be triaged by urgency, many have spoken of long delays for even the most essential work.

One person said: “We had a lighting problem which we considered an emergency, that usually means they have to respond within four hours. They finally came the following week.”

Another resident, who works in housing, claimed that miscommunication between MTVH and the local authority is leading to confusion about what needs to be fixed on the property.

He said: “We have been looking at the title deeds to establish who is responsible for what because there is a lot of damage to roads and footpaths.

“This is especially the case on Barnard Close where the road is sinking and cars have been damaged as a result. The issue was reported to both MTVH and Sutton Council and they both said they had fixed the issue but they haven’t.”

Earlier this year, MTVH CEO Geeta Nanda announced that she would be stepping down in the fall. Sutton MP Elliot Colburn, who regularly deals with casework on the estate, called on the future CEO to address these issues and reassure residents.

He told the LDRS: “Roundshaw residents frequently have to raise faults with the MTVH service with me. Essential repairs and maintenance have been left for months, even years in some cases, with poor communication and even a lack of empathy, often cited by residents who contact me, who are then expected to pay inflated service fees and other costs.

“Having met with MTVH to express these concerns, I urge their new CEO to engage in deep research into the management of customer repairs in the organisation, to ensure that a fully operational repair office is permanently located at the Roundshaw office and hold regular residents’ meetings to rebuild trust.”

A spokesman for MTVH said: “This has clearly been a distressing time for Ms Kerridge. The problems she encountered with her elevator were deeply upsetting and caused her significant inconvenience.

“Keeping residents feeling comfortable and safe in their homes is our absolute priority and as soon as we were made aware of this situation we contacted Sutton Council’s occupational therapist asking that this situation be addressed as a matter of urgency.

“We will remain in contact with Ms Kerridge and continue to support her while the issues with the staircase installation are resolved.”

The spokesperson added that MTVH takes “all complaints raised with us extremely seriously”.

They said Roundshaw’s estate office is open five days a week, residents can either walk in or make an appointment and its housing and property teams hold monthly meetings at the local leisure centre.

The phone lines are open from 8am to 6pm Monday to Friday, with emergency support available 24 hours a day with a free callback feature, they said.

They added: “Where a repair is raised as an emergency we aim to carry it out within 24 hours and our records show that we consistently meet this timeframe at Roundshaw.”

They urged residents to contact them with any concerns, adding that they are working with Sutton Council to adopt all roads on the property. This would facilitate speedy carrying out of road and street repairs.

In September 2023, Eagle Close at Roundshaw was adopted by MTVH, with the housing association saying it had invested around £110,000 in road surface repairs, curbs and lighting.

A spokesman for Sutton Council said that while MTVH is responsible for housing issues on the estate, residents can report concerns to the council via the ‘Report it’ feature on its website.

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