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Posts tagged ‘Moving’

Moving Miracle

For the last 8 years I was living in a flat that was totally unsuitable for my needs. It was in a very expensive area, my neighbour’s houses sold for over £1m. This had the added drawback of constant building works for basements or extensions, meaning on average two lots of builders blocking the road with lorries everyday, on numerous occasions. There were lovely local shops and cafes. But I felt trapped and unsafe living there.

Trapped, because I couldn’t leave the house without support. The front door was narrow, with three steps, I couldn’t get my wheelchair from my car where it lived, into the flat to charge it, without it being dismantled, something my carers had to do for me. Unsafe, because my downstairs neighbour misused alcohol – I don’t think I ever encountered him totally sober. He also had a record of violence and had on several occasions tried to con or force his way into my flat. Both of these conditions were overlaid with mental health issues. Due to his behaviour towards me he was not supposed to interact with me in any way. But the alcohol had clearly affected his memory and he harassed me on a frequent basis. 

So going out of my flat or coming back was fraught and very scary. There were times when I would park outside and have to wait inside the car for over 30 minutes before he stopped blocking may way though the communal gate, until he got bored and either went home or off to the pub. I did try and involve the police, but this was low-level stuff and by the time anyone arrived he was usually nowhere to be seen. On several occasions late at night the police tried to speak to him, but he was so drunk when he answered the door that he had no recollection of anything in the last 24 hours! 

I got myself on to both the Council and Housing Association waiting lists, as well as applying to various other housing associations, which specialised in housing for disabled people. On rare occasions I was actually offered a flat to view. These flats fell into two categories, they were either not adapted at all and had been totally wrongly described on the relevant websites, or they had some adaptations, but getting in or out of the building was impossible without someone being with me. 

On at least five occasions, as a result of being on a flat-swapping site Homeswapper, I found a flat that would have been fine for me, but when the people from the other flats visited mine they either encountered my downstairs neighbour, which ensured they were no longer interested, or my flat was too small for them. There were so many time-wasters on these sites too!! All of which was very frustrating and disappointing. 

I really was beginning to despair, I just couldn’t see how I was going to find anywhere suitable to live. Because of all my medical conditions I didn’t want to move outside London, also that is where both my children are based and my grandsons too. 

Over the last few years I had received some support from a charity called Elizabeth Finn Care. As part of that I had a yearly visit from one of their staff and on last years visit the person who came to see me told me of a small housing co-op just south of the Thames that had a flat she thought would be ideal for me and for some reason, they had had difficulties letting it. 

I checked up the website and contacted them. It took absolutely ages to get any response, I thought the flat would have been let already, but no, by a miracle it was still vacant. I filled in the application form and one sunny winters day my partner Eve I went to see it. The flat is on a lovely quiet street, level access, great adaptations, some of which need updating, and with direct access onto a lovely secluded shared garden. I fell in love with it straight away. But most importantly it is well designed so I can use my wheelchair to get everywhere in the flat. 

The kitchen has an adjustable height hob & built-in oven at the right height for me. So I might even be able to cook again. However although the sink is also height adjustable my tumble dryer needs to be underneath it, so there is no way I can do washing up – I’m really happy to leave that to my carers! I also now have a washing machine, which came free with the flat, so no more trips to the laundrette. It makes such a difference to be able to wash & dry clothes etc when I need to without having to wait for a load to take out and then collect days later.

After my visit I had several weeks of waiting, it seemed to be ages before I was called to a meeting of the allocations panel, when I had to put my case and indicate how I would contribute to the running of the co-op. Luckily my professional background means I have lots of transferable skills which helped. My living conditions helped too especially as my old flat by now had large areas of damp which was not helping with my lung function.

When I got the phone call saying I had got the flat, I almost couldn’t believe it!! The prefect flat, in a lovely quiet development, with parking just outside and a garden I could actually use. All I had to do was organise a move. As a child I moved home every 3-5 years and lived with the rule that if it hadn’t been used in the last 3 years it went to charity. This is considerably more difficult when you’ve lived somewhere for almost 10 years. But I was lucky in that I have a wonderful friend who loves helping people declutter, so we had several afternoons work, rewarding ourselves with Chinese takeaways. Our synagogue supports an Asylum Seekers project – so it was easy to decide where my unwanted clothes would go. I had to reduce my books too, that was definitely the hardest part. 

I managed to find a removal company who would pack everything for me at a reasonable price, so that was one problem taken care of. Then it was dealing with all the utilities companies, I was infuriated to discover that Thames Water told me I should have had a large discount on my flat because of my disability! Needless to say it couldn’t be backdated, but I will be trying to get it for my new flat. I was certainly pleased to be telling Eon I no longer wanted their services, I had signed up via a deal with Age UK, believed it to be the best, but recently evidence has shown I and many others have been duped, so I’ll be keeping the bills and hoping to get some money back. 

For lots of reasons I would be very glad to leave that flat, but when I told my lovely upstairs neighbour I was moving and would be so sad to leave her, she told me she was moving too. I was so pleased for her as that meant she would be free of our dreadful neighbour too! 

The housing co-op were very helpful in allowing me access several days before my tenancy officially started so I could get my wifi TV and phone set up before I moved in. Virgin were really great – they look after disabled customers who cannot set up their new equipment very well. I didn’t have to pay any setup costs at all which saved me a useful sum of money.  

Moving day finally arrived and with the help of carers at my old flat and Nico and two lovely friends from our synagogue at the new flat everything was moved. There were the usual panics about things going missing, the worst one being my wheelchair charger. My carer swore she had put it into my car with other essentials, but when I asked Eve to get it for me she couldn’t find it – big panic! I managed to find a shop several miles away that stocked the model I needed and Eve shlepped to collect it, only to discover it was at their other branch five miles further away! Eventually she managed to get it back to me and I was mobile again. But, guess what? When Eve moved some final boxes from the car there it was underneath the last bag! Well at least I now have a spare that I can leave in the car for when I’m travelling. 

One thing I did decide I needed due to my increased pain levels, as the only position I can get any relief from my trapped nerve is by laying on my side in bed, was to find a way of being able to turn the main light in my bedroom on and off without getting out of bed. A quick scan of Amazon and I discovered a wifi controlled light bulb. I found a lovely round lampshade too and eagerly awaited their arrival. Luckily one of my visitors was tall enough to put both the bulb and shade up for me & it works perfectly! Not only does it switch on and off remotely but I can change the warmth or coolness of the light. So that’s another of life’s challenges resolved.

It has taken quite a time to get everything sorted and put in place so I can find items again. For the first few weeks I really couldn’t believe how lucky I was, despite a boiler breakdown and having a new one installed, also the intercom system decided to die, so more workmen came to install a much improved model. 

I’ve had lots of friends come to visit, which has been wonderful & I might even have a housewarming party! 

Trying to get my care package transferred and paid for by my new borough, has been a much less simple process, the saga is on-going, and will be the subject of a separate blog post.

The final thing I had do was to get my Mezuzah put up on the door post. A mezuzah is a parchment, or klaf, on which certain verses of the Torah are inscribed (Deuteronomy 6:4-9, 11:13-21). Mezuzah refers as well to the case or container in which the parchment is enclosed. A mezuzah serves two functions: Every time you enter or leave, the mezuzah reminds you that you have a covenant with God; second, the mezuzah serves as a symbol to everyone else that this particular dwelling is constituted as a Jewish household. 

One of the last things that was done when I left my old flat was to remove my mezuzah and put it safely in a small plastic bag inside my handbag so I knew exactly where it was when I needed to affix it to my new front door. Most Liberal Jews, such as myself, just have one Mezuzah, but more orthodox Jews place one on the lintel  of all the main living and sleeping rooms.

Mezuzahs come in so many different designs and prices. I had bought this one in a traditional Judaica shop in Golders Green (one of the most Jewish areas of London), which has sadly now closed. Mine is very like the one on the image at the top of this post. I was pleased the parchment was intact and I could just transfer it without needing new parchment, as it seem to remember it costing more that the Mezuzah itself!

Jewish custom says this should be done with 30 days of moving, so it was a great delight to have my wonderful Rabbi & her lovely dog come & visit to say the prayers and help ensure that everything was done the right way. My partner shared the ceremony with me and I finally felt I had a permanent and blessed home.

Why the break?

I feel I owe the followers of this blog some explanation as to why I disappeared from my blog for 18 months.

There are a number of reasons, so I wanted to  list them so you may understand.

I actually thought I’d already posted this explanation, but on checking my blog when I posted ‘A Trip to the Countryside’ yesterday, I realised I hadn’t! So here it is:

More vision problems

This led to me receiving further eye surgery, I had a right corneal re-graft, cataract removal and lens implant in September 2014. Thankfully the operation went very well and I have useful vision in that eye again after several years deterioration. However, my nursing care was not good and sadly led to a complaint, which was only ever partly resolved. 

In September 2015 I had surgery on my left eye, cataract removal and lens implant. Because my partner was going to stay with me at home, I was allowed home the same day, which was wonderful and with also having a great carer who came in regularly I was looked after much better than I would have been in hospital. 

My operation was very successful and after four months of not being able to drive, I had my scleral lens adjusted and I now have both excellent near and distance vision.

The three months leading up to my op and the six weeks afterwards were difficult. Especially beforehand, my near vision was compromised even before I stopped driving and I found it so hard not being able to read anything unless it was on a Kindle or iPad. Back-lighting together with font and colour changes really helped me. Sometimes using a magnifier worked, but it was always trying and at times impossible to hold a heavy book in one hand and a reading aid in my other, especially as I’ve not got full use of my left arm and hand.

The only saving grace was having wonderful, supportive friends and a partner who helped me so much in so many ways.

Starting a new relationship 

I’m going to write more about this in a future blog post, so this section will be very short – except to say that being with Eve has changed so many things for me in such a wonderful way.

Caring for Judy

When I first met Eve, she was helping to support her cousin Judy, who had breast cancer. Within a few weeks it was obvious to me, as a nurse who originally specialised in cancer care, that Judy had only a short time to live. Eve and I decided to prioritise caring for Judy, over everything else in our lives. So for the first eight months of our relationship, our lives revolved around hospital visits, taking Judy out when she was well enough and for her final days nursing her at home with the help of a wonderful carer. Following the funeral our days have were filled with house-clearing and all the other minutiae that follow a death. But we were also mourning a wonderful woman, who had a huge impact on Eve’s life. In the midst of emptying Judy’s house, the sale of Eve’s flat went though and she had lots of sorting to do, so that her belongings could go into store until she found a new home.

Study and obligations

For a number of years I have been studying Judaism. I have a Jewish heritage, but was not raised Jewishly. I wanted and needed to reclaim my history and convert. This has not been a quick process, nor is it intended to be, it’s taken over 5 years, punctuated with breaks for health and other reasons. At the end of 2015 that part of my journey was concluded. I had made a commitment to the community I had joined to do some work for them, this took many hours, which at the time was a wonderful distraction from the extra pain I was suffering, which necessitated the surgery I had last month. I have completed the bulk of the task I undertook and I will only need to do a regular few hours each week with some extra work around the time of festivals. Now I have more time to write. 

Moving home

After being on the waiting list to move to a fully adapted flat for over 8 years, through a chance encounter I met someone who knew of a purpose built flat just south of the Thames. I viewed it and instantly knew it was the place I wanted to live, and 6 months later here I am. Moving is an exhausting process in every way, and as I finally get everything into place I’m feeling settled and able to write again.

So in a nutshell, that’s what’s been going on in my life. There have also been a number of ups and downs related to all the stuff that disabled people deal with on a daily basis, some of which I will write about. The current UK Tory government is making life much worse for those of us who are disabled, as well as those unfortunate to be unemployed, or earning a very low wage.

Disabled people in the UK are banding together to help and support each other, we have groups on Facebook and other sites. There are great advice organisations too. I recognise I am more fortunate than many, but want to help and educate where I can. 

Some of my future posts will focus on this, as well as aspects of my own life.


So near and yet so far………..


This is the view of the garden for my flat, I just wish I could go and sit outside and enjoy the sunshine, but there are a number of very steep steps from my balcony down to the garden which are impossible for me to negotiate safely.

Yet another reason for needing to move.

Using the balcony is an option, but gives me no privacy as my very nosey downstairs neighbour insists in either pushing his way through the gate at the end and coming up and smoking right next to me, or interrupting any conversation I may be trying to have with visitors.

I find his smoking not only objectionable but also totally inconsiderate as I have greatly reduced lung function and being near people who are smoking makes my breathing so much worse. I have told him this, as has the housing officer who looks after both our flats, but to no avail.

So, during these lovely sunny days I remain in doors, instead of being outside soaking up some Vitamin D. I guess that’s why a couple of years ago I was diagnosed with severe Vitamin D deficiency and now have to take daily supplements.

It would probably be cheaper for the NHS to help get me moved to a new flat!

Trying to Move

I have been trying to move from my current flat for almost four years. It is unsuitable for me because I cannot get my electric wheelchair through the front door to charge it without folding it, which means taking the batteries out and lifting the chair and the batteries over two steps, something I have to rely on somebody else to do.

A few weeks ago I went to see a flat that should have been ideal for me, and with some adaptations it would be, but without them it is impossible for me. Ideally I need a walk/wheel in shower in the bathroom. I can just, but not very safely, manage to use a bath, manoeuvring myself onto a bath board but need
shower controls and the shower head to be within reach as my balance is too poor to allow me to stand.

The housing association who own the flat are willing to do the adaptations, but then a great big snag occurred. The flat I want to move to so I am nearer my family is in a different London borough from the one I’m now in.

Before the adaptations are undertaken I have to be assessed by an OT (Occupational Therapist) who will ensure that the controls are in the right place, the seat is safe and suitable and the grab rails are at the correct height. The OT from the borough in which I live is not allowed to assess me for a property outside the boundaries of the borough. When the OTs from the borough
I am moving to were contacted, the housing association was told that it is not possible for an OT assessment to be done on me unless I am already living in the borough!

Hence I am now in a catch 22 situation, wherever and whenever I move.

If I move before the adaptations are carried out I would have to wait to be assessed, then wait for funding to be agreed and then wait again for the work to be carried out. Before I moved into this flat, bathroom adaptations were needed and the whole process took about six months. This therefore makes moving and waiting a non-starter.

My wonderful new Motability car has a specially fitted electric hoist, so my wheelchair, complete with batteries, is hoisted in and out with minimal assistance from me. All of which is really great, and gives me a greater degree of independence that I have had for some years. But I still need to move to a
flat with level access so I can easily get my chair in through the front door and charge the batteries every few days.

I have no idea how long it will take me to move, all I know is that the housing association is; “trying to find a solution”.

All I can say is, ‘Please keep trying’, because the longer I stay where I am, the more trying it is for me!

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