Disabled man fights Brighton Council for permanent home

Robert Carver, a disabled man from Hove, is fighting Brighton and Hove City Council for a permanent ground floor flat with wheelchair access and space for a carer.

Due to restricted mobility, Mr Carver relies on his carer to drag him up the 28 stairs to his third floor attic flat. This is painful and harmful to his condition. The paralysis that affected his lower body first is now spreading to his upper body, arms and spine.  He needs help to eat and drink, he sleeps on the sofa because he cannot get in and out of his bed.

The flat was allocated by Brighton Council five years ago as a temporary measure but officers now agree it is unsuitable.  His occupational therapist says it is impossible to adapt the property because it is too cramped.

His condition, Functional Neurological Disorder, is chronic, degenerative and results in paralysis.

Previously Mr Carver was an interior designer, artist and architect.  He designed his sofa and armchair and on his walls are his paintings and displays of butterflies.  He is a very talented man who would like to return to work after doing a rehabilitation programme at the Maudsley Hospital in South London. He has, however, been told to wait until he has permanent housing.

Robert Carver

Mr Carver said: “I want to go back to work.  There are computers where you touch the screen with a pen held in your mouth.  If I managed to work, I could pay for all of this myself.”

Mr Carver needs permanent housing

It is very important that the council makes Mr Carver one offer of housing which is suitable now and into the future because his condition is degenerative. He believes the council’s will not offer him suitable permanent housing because of financial cuts. “Keeping me a prisoner and treating me like an animal is not conducive with being a human being. I wouldn’t treat a dog like this,” he said.

Emergency accommodation is a backwards step

Brighton Council has offered Mr Carver emergency accommodation at Windsor Court twice but this will mean he’ll have to move twice. He said: “It is bad enough and traumatic enough to move once. Moving multiple times is just silly.”

Windsor Court would only be a temporary solution for Mr Carver who said that his nurse, occupational therapist and GP have all expressed concerns about the quality of accommodation. Last February Mr Carver’s medical team refused Windsor Court as unsuitable.

In addition, Mr Carver’s eighth reassessment by Adult Social Care is underway because he argues that he needs 24 hour care. As his condition deteriorates, this becomes more and more likely.

Moving Mr Carver into emergency accommodation would be an inadequate, temporary fix.

On 18 November Mr Farrelly from Brighton Council’s Adult Social Care department wrote to Mr Carver. He said: “Please note that if Housing offer you such accommodation and you refuse it, it is likely that no further offers of accommodation will be made to you as it will be considered that the housing duty to you has been discharged.”

Cramped bathroom

In December, a spokesperson for the council refused to provide an update saying: “I can confirm that we are continuing to work with Mr Carver to resolve his housing situation and to ensure his care and support needs are met. We do not share individual’s information due to the confidentiality of the subject matter.”

Amongst other things Hove MP Peter Kyle said earlier this month: “Bobby needs, deserves, and has a right to accommodation that is suited to the challenges he faces.”

Mr Carver said: “I am not just doing this for myself, I am fighting for all disabled people. They are so scared that the hours of their care will be cut that they don’t speak up. I have lost everything already.”

Still Human in the UK has launched a petition to report breaches of United Nations human rights legislation to the UK equality and human rights commission. 

An updated version of this story published by Brighton and Hove News can be read here. Mr Carver’s situation is changing all the time.