‘If there is a fire I won’t get out’: Disabled woman trapped in fourth four flat for two years

A disabled woman who has been “trapped” in a fourth floor flat for more than two years says she is afraid she will not be able to escape if there is a fire.

Shane Lawson was moved into the block of flats managed by Pinnacle Housing, in Thurston Road, Ladywell, by Lewisham council in January 2022.

The 50-year-old said: “I have spent every day for the past two years doing paperwork with my carer trying to move out. I just want my life back.”

Ms Lawson is wheelchair bound and lives with chronic pain after an accident 10 years ago left her with permanent damage in her left knee and a spinal injury.

Despite her disability, neither the council nor her housing association have completed a wheelchair assessment on the property since she moved, leaving her in “dangerous” and “depressing” conditions. A spokeswoman from Lewisham council said their records indicate that the home is “suitable for her needs”.

Ms Lawson said: “My carer tries to get me outside every day but sometimes he can’t.

“When he’s not here I’m trapped in this room. The doors are not automatic and they are very heavy so I can’t get out of my flat and even if I could the chair lift is broken.”

The block of flats (left) where Ms Lawson lives (Picture: Google Street View)

The situation has stripped Ms Lawson of her independence, she said, as her post and shopping is delivered downstairs which she cannot access.

But Ms Lawson said she is also scared for her safety. She said: “If there was a fire I can’t get out.”

Ms Lawson said she is concerned about her carer, who helps her send emails to the council and apply for new properties which could accommodate her disability.

She said: “My carer helps me every day with meals and getting dressed, but since I moved he’s been doing so much more.

“It’s not a normal job for him, it shouldn’t be like that – neither of us have a life.”

Ms Lawson said she has recently been removed from the council housing list for rejecting a property offer from Pinnacle.

She said: “If I was offered a flat I would have taken it. Now I can’t even bid for a property – it’s exhausting.

“It’s depressing me, I’m not the same person I used to be. I’m panicking every day and I want to snap out of it, but I can’t until I move.” 

A spokeswoman from Lewisham council said: “We are sorry Ms Lawson is unhappy in her home.

“When a resident disagrees with a decision about their housing application or medical assessment, they can request for it to be reviewed. They can also request a reassessment if their condition changes.

“We have asked Pinnacle Spaces to investigate the reliability of the stair lift and invite Ms Lawson to make an official complaint if her concerns aren’t dealt with urgently.”

A spokeswoman from Pinnacle Housing said: “Lewisham council is responsible for allocating properties and assessing transfer applications for residents of Asquith Court.

“For areas within our control, we always take action when we receive feedback from residents. We undertake weekly testing of the stairlift to ensure it remains in working order and, if any issues are found, these are speedily resolved.

“We will continue to liaise with the council to make sure Ms Lawson receives the support she needs.’”

Pictured top: Shane Lawson in her flat (Picture: Shane Lawson)

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