Disabled Sheffield woman left trapped in her own home as wheelchair cannot fit through doors of her house

A disabled woman who must find a new home to meet her needs has criticised Sheffield Council for providing "no help whatsoever" after she had her leg amputated.

Monday, 6th September 2021, 10:11 am
Charlene Harris-Hextall and her husband Gareth. Charlene's wheelchair doesn't fit through the doors at their home on Park Walk. Picture Scott Merrylees

Charlene Harris-Hextall, who lives in Hyde Park, learned just five days after marrying her partner, Gareth, that she had cancer.

She was later told that she would need to have her leg amputated to treat the disease, and the couple began looking for a new place to live that would accommodate Charlene’s needs.

Charlene, aged 33, said: “It has been a nightmare since getting out of hospital. I have got nowhere with Sheffield Council. My husband was told (by housing officials) that I should find a friend with a bungalow to move in with. He was fuming. I shouldn’t need to move out of living with my partner.

Charlene has been sleeping downstairs as it is difficult to move about the house. Picture Scott Merrylees

"Gareth has been taking care of me, he has been taking time off work. He does look after me, he does everything in the house. I feel like an invalid. When I get another place I will have more independence. I want a bungalow, it would make me feel more safe.”

Charlene works for Shell and plans to return to work from home in October. She will be fitted for a prosthetic leg but this can only be worn for four to five hours a day.

The wheelchair Charlene uses is too big to fit through the doorways in her current home, and when her husband is at work, her property becomes a fire hazard as she cannot easily leave by herself.

When Gareth is able to help her out of the house, Charlene now uses her friends’ grandmothers’ adapted shower because she suffered two falls and hurt her leg when trying to use her own shower.

Charlene's wheelchair does not fit through the doorways in her property.

She added: “Now I’m scared to go upstairs. I have been sleeping downstairs, my bed has been moved into the living room. I am stuck in the living room all the time. It is awful looking at four walls. I feel like I am back in lockdown. I suffer with depression and am on anti-depressants, this situation has exacerbated it.

“The council spoke to my husband and told him we are not registered to the council, but we are. They have not given us any help whatsoever. The council haven’t done anything at all.”

Coun Paul Wood, Executive Member for Housing, Roads and Waste Management, said: "Our officers are working closely with Mrs Harris-Hextall and her family to find a suitable property to become their home. After identifying an issue with the housing application, we have now resolved this and have apologised to the family for the inconvenience caused.

"Everybody deserves a home that meets their individual needs, and we are in the process of finding a suitable adapted property as a priority. Mrs Harris-Hextall has been allocated a housing officer to support her through the rehousing process and ensure that an appropriate home is found as quickly as possible."