Wandsworth tenants in desperate need of a lift – because the one they rely on is useless

By Charlotte Lillywhite, Local Democracy Reporter

Residents living in an apartment block say their lives have been ‘ruined’ after years of the lift repeatedly breaking down.

Social housing tenants at 27 Enterprise Way, Wandsworth managed by Southern Housing, said their health has declined, they have been left unable to work or go to hospital appointments and even missed important events like a grandchild’s birth as a result of the issue.

The block was only completed in 2015 but it has not taken long for the trouble to kick in.

Many of the less able residents say they feel trapped indoors when the lift breaks down, which they say can last for days, weeks or even months.

The block has a communal garden terrace, but residents said they have not been allowed to access it for an extended period of time, which has left them feeling even more trapped.

Some residents have been moved into hotels when the lift has broken down, including when it was mostly out of service from February 17 to March 20.

Hubert Johnson says he made a huge mistake in moving to the block (Picture: Facundo Arrizabalaga)

Samira Mohamed, 21, lives with her mum Suad Gaal, 46, who is one of the disabled residents living on the top floor of the eight-storey block. She can’t climb the 16 flights of stairs to their flat when the lift breaks down as she has a spinal disorder and fractured ankle.

Ms Mohamed said issues caused by the lift repeatedly breaking down have ‘ruined’ their lives and they have given up hope the situation will properly improve after repeatedly complaining to Southern Housing.

She said the lift can break down less than an hour after being repaired, leaving residents unable to fulfil plans they have made.

The student said: “You can’t go to an appointment. You can’t go shopping. Your life is controlled by the lift and one summer when I was carrying the shopping and stuff up the stairs, I injured my back and had to go to the hospital.”

Hubert Richards, 80, moved into his fifth-floor flat in 2015 after his wife of 50 years died as he could not face living in the home they once shared. He described this as the ‘biggest mistake’ he ever made.

He said: “I just can’t handle this anymore and if I could [I’d] just walk out and get myself another place.”

Others voicing their despair include Dwayne George, 35, who lives on the fifth floor. He raised concerns about the impact of the lift breaking down on his mum who visits to look after his 13-year-old daughter and Elisa Mbuanda, 56, who lives on the seventh floor and was moved into a hotel after the lift broke down in February as she can’t use the stairs.

Samira Mohamed – another badly affected by the lift being out of order so often (Picture: Facundo Arrizabalaga)

Ms Mbuanda, who has mobility problems, said: “Sometimes I used to stay two months in the house without going out because of the lift not working. Now I’m on depression tablets, I have depression.”

Shamna Finnigan, 48, was also moved into a hotel from her sixth-floor flat in February as she is housebound when the lift breaks down due to health issues. She missed a grandchild’s birth because the lift wasn’t working.

Natasha Johnson, 43, said she had to carry her daughter with sickle cell disease down 14 flights of stairs from their seventh-floor flat when she was having a pain crisis in February due to the lift not working.

Southern Housing said it plans to replace the lift next year as it is approaching a point where it will need modernising, and that it will continue to repair and maintain the lift until then.

A Southern Housing spokesman said: “We take our residents’ concerns extremely seriously and are working closely with residents at Enterprise Way to address any outstanding issues within their building.

“The lift at Enterprise Way was repaired on March 20 and remains in full working order. We’re sorry for the impact on residents caused by the repair issues.

“While the lift remained out of action, we contacted vulnerable residents to find out whether they’d prefer to move to a temporary home. We also arranged help with carrying shopping or large items up the stairs.

“We know the importance of strong communication and have shared a dedicated newsletter with residents updating them on issues within the building. We’ve also arranged for our staff to personally check on all residents.”

Pictured top: No stairway to heaven for Shamna Finnigan at 27 Enterprise Way (Picture): Facundo Arrizabalaga/MyLondon

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