Wheelchair-bound dad ‘trapped in his home’ after council refuse to build ramp

Wheelchair-bound Alex says he feels like a prisoner in his own home after the council have refused to build him a ramp (Picture: Media Scotland)

A dad from Edinburgh says he feels like a prisoner in his own home after the council refused to build a ramp from his tenement stair door to the pavement.

Alexander French, 54, started using an electric wheelchair after being diagnosed with Fibromyalgia and losing the ability to walk- but because of the steep step to his tenement flat door, he is unable to leave his home independently.

Alex says he doesn’t like relying on his family to get in and out of the house, which leaves him stuck inside through the week and unable to socialise, which has taken its toll on his mental health.

‘I am a wheelchair user and I live in a ground-floor flat in north Edinburgh,’ he said.

Alex lost the ability to walk after being diagnosed with Fibromyalgia (Picture: Getty)

‘I recently contacted the city council to request a wheelchair ramp and I was told I needed to have a wheelchair issued by the NHS, but I use an electric wheelchair as I do not have the strength to push a manual chair.

‘I received an NHS chair a few weeks ago and I contacted the city council again, but was told I had been given the wrong information and I’m not entitled to a ramp as I own my house.

‘I’m not in a position to pay for a ramp and as a result, I can’t leave the house unless my son or wife is home.

‘However, they both work during the day and can’t help.’

He continued: ‘We have owned our house for 20 years but all the rest of the flats are owned by the council and it’s a main stair door.

‘’I have been using the wheelchair for years, my son used to be here all the time and built me a ramp so I could get out of the house on my own but it’s not there anymore.

‘My son is 29 years old now and he is out all the time. He needs his own life and it’s not fair for me to rely on him to get out of the house.

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‘I used to go to different groups throughout the week to meet up with people and socialise but I can’t now. The lack of dropped kerbs in the area means often I have to use the road and my wheelchair is not roadworthy.

‘I have fallen out of my wheelchair twice- once trying to get up onto a kerb and another time because wheelie bins were in the way and I had to try and go around them.

‘I am stuck in my house from Monday to Thursday because my son is out volunteering now and my wife works. My best friend just lives down the road and he is a wheelchair user too, but I haven’t seen him in years because I can’t get out of the house.

‘This has been my life for years now.’

Alex continued: ‘I was going to the gym to help strengthen my legs at Ainslie Park but I can’t do that anymore. It’s taken a huge toll on my mental health – right now it is really bad.

‘I’m just sat all day on my own with the dog and no one to talk to.’

It has also impacted his health. Alex said: ‘I can’t make or keep appointments during the day and this is having a huge effect on my mental health. I often feel like a prisoner in my own home.

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Finally, he said ‘I’m just worried about others who could be stuck in similar situations and can’t speak up for themselves.

‘A cost of a ramp isn’t that much but it would be life-changing for me. The council just doesn’t listen to people who need help.’

A neighbour has offered to build a ramp for Alex but he would still like answers from the council on the handling of his situation after he complained a number of times but didn’t get any help.

A spokesperson from the Edinburgh Health and Social Care Partnership said, ‘We can provide assurance that in cases where our Occupational Therapy services are in place, assessment decisions will always aim to ensure the right level of support and rehabilitation, whilst maximising individual independence as much as possible based on personal capability and circumstances.

They added: ‘In addition, we work with individuals to help link them to wider community services and groups that can further enable and support overall wellbeing.’

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