When Shana’s trusted landlord died, she was faced with having to find a new home that was adapted for her disability and was shocked to discover she had nowhere to go. See her video story below.
After a year of searching, Shana was on the brink of having to live in a care home, when a specially-adapted ground floor flat built by Hyde became available. For Shana, who has Multiple Sclerosis (MS) and uses a wheelchair, it was a life-changing moment.
"When I found out the flat was available, I felt an overwhelming sense of relief that I was about to get a roof over my head," she says. "As it began to sink in, I felt incredibly lucky. The flat is three bus stops away from my old home, so my friends and support network are all still nearby."
Shana, 39, who lives in Portslade near Brighton, has a team of assistants who help her get ready Monday to Friday. She uses a scooter to get around her flat, which is fitted with wide doors, an adapted bathroom and a push-button front door. There is also parking for carers.
Now that Shana has an adapted home, she realises how much her life had been compromised in her previous flat, which had been ideal when she moved in, but became dangerous and inaccessible, as her health deteriorated.
"Being in a specially adapted flat is amazing. Everyone, including me, began to realise how I’d been living before moving here. I was basically living in my bedroom. I moved a fridge in there and kept food under the bed which then attracted rats. Looking back, it wasn’t OK, but my landlord was brilliant and, when I had to stop running my business and went on to housing benefit, he was fine. I never thought about an alternative."
Although Shana is relishing her independence, and is resuming her commitments to various MS charities and local voluntary work, she admits her year-long housing uncertainty took its toll.
"It was really traumatic because finding somewhere to live was so out of my control. I assumed I would always be able to afford to rent and buy somewhere – it never occurred to me that I’d be in this situation.
"Everything was on hold. I didn’t want to travel anywhere, just in case I got a call about a flat. On a Thursday the housing list came out, so if I got asked to do anything that day, I’d say no. I felt I might miss out."
Having experienced such a precarious situation, Shana really appreciates her secure home. She also has the added confidence of knowing that if her condition worsens, any additional equipment she might need, such as a hoist, could be easily installed.
"We’re so desperately in need of this type of accessible accommodation. I know that my flat is not only suitable for my needs now but that it will be suitable for my needs in the future. Knowing that I can stay here and that I don’t have to face those kind of accommodation problems in the future is just a massive weight off my mind."