Barnet Homes have decided that Mostafa can walk

Yesterday Barnet refused to commit to the renovations needed to make a house offered to the last Sweets Way family, accessible for Mostafa’s needs as a wheelchair user.

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Mostafa, in his home at Sweets Way

Barnet Homes decided, unequivocally on Monday, that Mostafa – a resident of the last Sweets Way household and a wheelchair user with serious spinal injuries – is able to walk. They refused to tell the family exactly how they had come to this conclusion.

This would be utterly ridiculous if the costs were not so high. Mostafa injured his back three years ago while working as a carer in a home for the elderly. Since then, Barnet Homes have bounced the family around between temporary accommodations, none of which have been suitable to Mostafa’s needs. But after years of indignity and challenges created by inadequate housing offers, Mostafa is clear that he will not settle for something that fails to meet his basic needs. His Sweets Way home is far from perfect, but he’s not keen to go through the stress of another move, only to find his situation worsened and access reduced.

The house offered by Barnet Homes is not in Barnet (it is in Enfield), miles away from Mostafa’s medical appointments, his five-year-old daughter’s school, and the family and support networks that Mostafa relies on. But even these concerns aside for a moment, there is nothing suitable about the property itself.

In spite of the facts, Barnet have decided that Mostafa is only a part-time wheelchair user, and that he only needs the wheelchair when he is outside of the house. They somehow came to this conclusion after reading the latest report from Mostafa’s occupational therapist, which includes the following passages:

  • “[Mostafa] reports having very limited confidence when mobilising without wheelchair. [He] described that when mobilising, his left leg can “collapse”, presenting a possible further falls risk, and this appears to be affecting his confidence to mobilise without use of his wheelchair.
  • [Mostafa] reported previous falls within the current and previous property, one of which he claimed had resulted in him becoming unconscious…
  • [Mostafa’s] medication regime also reportedly causes him significant dizziness and drowsiness, and the pain he experiences in the mornings does not abate for roughly 1.5 hours until his medication has taken effect.”

And were these quotes not evidence enough, they are corroborated by several other reports, by Mostafa’s GP, a local disability charity, and several other medical professionals and experts. Finally, that same occupational therapist report recommends that a new home “should feature doorways that are wide enough to allow [Mostafa] to mobilise independently in his wheelchair.” This is simply not the case at the new house and Barnet Homes claims there is simply no need for it to be.

When asked how they came to the conclusion that Mostafa was ‘able to mobilise within the house with the use of a cane,’ they could only say that ‘we make our assessments based on looking at the range of factors available to us.’ What specifically those factors were, and how the assessment came to so thoroughly contradict the statements about Mostafa’s need for a wheelchair-friendly home, remains shrouded in mystery. All the officials will say is that ‘we’re clearly not going to agree on the assessment,’ as though Mostafa’s ability to get in and out of rooms in his house was something that needed to be agreed upon!

Ultimately, because Barnet’s housing policy is so skewed towards finding any excuse to discharge people from its list, Mostafa accepted the place, but on the conditions that he will move once a series of basic health and safety questions have been adequately addressed, the main one being that the door frames are widened to allow his wheelchair to pass freely through them.

The coming days will determine the critical detail of the arrangement, though at this stage, Barnet expect Mostafa to move into a home that will require him to have twenty-four-hour adult support around to actually live in. They will not admit that this is the case, and though they have the power to discharge him from their housing list, they do not have the power to deny the realities of Mostafa’s disability.

The selective reading of Mostafa’s medical reports is unacceptable. We know that if they are doing this to him, they are inevitably doing the same to so many others. Their offer has been reluctantly accepted, but the details are still to be ironed out – and now is the moment when Barnet Homes needs to hear from all of us, so they know that they can’t simply pick-and-choose the facts they deem worthy of assessment and then decide what they are responsible for, based on hand-picked details, which they are unwilling to even reveal to the family involved.

Mostafa needs the following adaptations made to the property on offer, if it is going to be an acceptable place for him to live with his family:

  1. All ground floor door frames expanded to allow an independent wheelchair user to pass through easily,
  2. A stair lift so Mostafa can reach his daughter’s second floor bedroom.

Until these adaptations (as well as those already agreed to by Barnet) are complete, Mostafa would only be able to live in the new property with twenty-four hour assistance, for both practical needs and in case of emergencies. This is not acceptable.

We held a noisy protest outside Barnet Homes today, but we need to keep the pressure up. They need to know that London is watching them and will continue to stand with Mostafa.

Send Troy Henshall [Troy.Henshall@barnet.gov.uk], Interim Chief Executive of the Barnet Group (which owns Barnet Homes) an email right away, and tell him that Barnet needs to acknowledge the true state of Mostafa’s health, and then accept exactly what their responsibilities are.

Demand that they do exactly what is needed to make the new property accessible, and that they support Mostafa’s right to remain at Sweets Way until they can demonstrate, without doubt, that he will be safe and able to live independently in his new home!

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11 thoughts on “Barnet Homes have decided that Mostafa can walk

  1. I am appalled that Barnet Homes can be so selective in their reading of medical and social reports. This is supposed to be a civilised society that takes care of its vulnerable members.
    Mostafa needs the following adaptations made to the property on offer, if it is going to be an acceptable place for him to live with his family:
    All ground floor door frames expanded to allow an independent wheelchair user to pass through easily,
    A stair lift so Mostafa can reach his daughter’s second floor bedroom.
    These are only basic adaptations. Ideally he should have a downstairs wetroom to allow him digity and privacy. Until these basic adaptations (as well as those already agreed to by Barnet) are complete, Mostafa would only be able to live in the new property with twenty-four hour assistance, for both practical needs and in case of emergencies. This is not acceptable.
    This is the 21st century – fulfil your obligations.

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    • Give me one reason why you think you know better than his doctors?
      There are 1000’s of people in London who are faking it and saying your leg “collapses” when you walk is common . I know a girl from Turkey who was also a carer and she told me that it’s surprisingly easy to fake it she has now been faking it for 27 years on full disability with her “leg” I went to Birmingham with her to an exhibition and she left her crutches at home cos she would be 100 miles from London and wouldn’t be spotted. What makes me so angry is hardly any of the people who sighned the petition knows Mr Mostafa yet they are prepared to call all the medics concerned with him liars sic. and the point is he is getting a home and should be grateful not trying to get something bigger and better than anybody else. These knee jerk reactions have to stop and so do these campaigns ,

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      • The whole point is that these are not the views of doctors we are disagreeing with – it is the view of the Council, which appears to have read the doctor’s reports very selectively, interpreting them to fit a particular outcomes. We also know Mostafa very well at this point, and thus are standing together to support him.
        What needs to stop is knee-jerk contempt and mistrust for people who need support. He is only asking for basic access needs to be met.

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      • I do not know better than his doctors. I have read the medical report and he clearly needs help. I assume that you shopped the faker.

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  2. So presumably Barnet Council are a Conservative run council. As we are all coming to learn, the Conservatives have no hearts, no compassion, no responsibility for the disabled, no charity and only one loyalty – to themselves.

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    • The Tories At Their Best
      ———–
      http://www.theyworkforyou.com/debates/?id=2012-02-01a.826.3

      David Winnick Labour, Walsall North
      This is indeed a grubby and obnoxious measure, but I have no doubt that at 2.30 pm, the Government will carry the day. I sat on the Government Benches for 13 years, and in the unlikely event that my Government had introduced such a measure, I would not have hesitated to vote against it, as I did on other motions on one or two occasions—although not many. I would not have expected my Government to propose such a measure, and I am pleased that we are opposing it. In essence, we are debating a 12-month limit—if the Lords amendments are defeated, as I expect they will be—for those with cancer and other life-threatening illnesses in the work-related activity group of the employment and support allowance. After 12 months, most of them will be means-tested. Some Government Members will ask why such a means tests should not be imposed, but let us be clear, so that when hon. Members vote in half an hour they know what they are voting on: a claimant in the category that I have mentioned whose partner works for more than 24 hours or earns £149 weekly—£149, not £249 or £549—could lose all their benefit. I wonder how many Government Members, who seem so keen on the proposal, could justify that in their constituencies. I certainly could not and would not wish to try.
      —————————————
      As has been stated, Macmillan Cancer Support believes that 7,000 cancer patients will be adversely affected by the proposal. The Government’s own figures show that 94% of people with cancer who are placed in the group that I have mentioned need ESA for longer than 12 months. That is not disputed—if it is, the Minister will intervene. I repeat: the Government’s own statistics show that 94% of such people require that support for longer than 12 months.

      This is not just about cancer patients. Let me quote a piece written by someone who has a rare bone disease. He is 50 years old and has spent more than three years in hospitals, trying to recover. He is not in a position to take employment, and that is not disputed. He says that he paid national insurance contributions all his life, until his illness, and he gets £89 a week through ESA. He writes that it

      “isn’t a big sum…but it makes a huge difference for me. Among other everyday essentials it pays for the heating to keep me warm during the long and often painful days at home while my partner is out at work.”

      Not an extravagant sum, is it? We are not being over-indulgent to someone who worked until he had that terrible disease and wants to try to make the best of his life in such circumstances. He says—[ Interruption. ] I hope the Minister is listening—he smiles.
      ——————
      Chriss Grayling
      ——-

      If I understand correctly, the hon. Gentleman has just described the very sad case of someone who will not be able to work again and would therefore certainly be placed in the support group and would not be affected by the measures. I am not sure that I understand the point being made.
      ———–
      David Winnick Labour, Walsall North

      He may well work again, but not at this moment. He writes that when the Welfare Reform Bill becomes law in April he, and others, such as cancer sufferers, people with psychiatric problems and those with other life-threatening illnesses will have their benefits “stripped” from them once 12 months is up. If his partner earns the sum I have mentioned of as little as £149 a week and if they have modest savings, he will receive nothing at all once he is means-tested. If that case is an illustration of the Government’s intentions, there is all the more reason for a reluctance to support the measures and a recognition of what the House of Lords has tried to do.

      As I listened to Jenny Willott and to the Liberal Democrat Minister of State, who intervened on my right hon. Friend Stephen Timms, I asked myself whether, if they were in opposition, they would have the slightest hesitation in upholding the decision of the Lords by majority vote. The answer is pretty obvious. To their credit, a number of Liberal Democrats in the Lords decided to vote against the Government, and Liberal Democrat MPs would, in opposition, have voted in the same Lobby as us at half-past 2. It is unfortunate that they are willing to sacrifice their principles so flagrantly as a result of being in the coalition.

      Let me end on a quote:

      “People who are sick, who are vulnerable…I want you to know we will always look after you. That’s the sign of a civilized society and it’s what I believe.”

      That was the Prime Minister at his party conference. What he is now doing with his colleagues and with the support of the Liberal Democrats is hitting out at the most vulnerable people in our society—cancer patients and the rest, including the man I mentioned. Those are the people who will be penalised financially and harmed in so many ways as a result of what the Government are doing. That is a direct contradiction of what the Prime Minister said about protecting the most vulnerable in our society.

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  3. I TAKE IT THAT ANYONE CAN BECOME A COUNCILLOR, IF BARNET IS ANYTHING TO GO BY ! – BUT WHY TAKE ONLY THOSE WITH AN I.Q. IN DOUBLE FIGURES ? – THERE MUST BE BETTER PEOPLE IN BARNET, OR IS IT A SINK HOLE FOR TOTAL TWATS ?

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  4. This is unacceptable, the council would be better to help to help this family so that they can stay in a house suitable for their needs. I wonder if he would receive better treatment if he were a refugee as it seems the government is more interested in their needs than the British people’s needs.

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    • The government is not actually interested in supporting refugees (who are largely coming from places that the UK was involved in making uninhabitable). If the right choices were made, there would be housing for Mostafa, tens of thousands in similar situations AND many refugees. But this isn’t what the current government want.

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  5. Sounds like typical Tory tacticu. Anything to make a profit and gentrify.as much of the country as possible. They will bend the rules and ride roughshod over the rights of ordinary people and natural justice in pursuit of their selfish greedy agenda. Just wait until they start charging people to appeal against bad or illegal council decisions. Any one who isn’t a millionaire who votes Tory needs psychiatric treatment. Good luck Mostafa I hope you get the home you and your family deserve and need.

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  6. When someone suffers from back pain,it can rule every second of your life.
    The constant nerve pain is so debilitating, making the sufferer feel exhausted, vulnerable, and very much alone. The thought of being forcibly removed from your home when in this state is not something that should be happening in 2015. No one else can see or feel your pain, and many it seems have no imagination, no empathy. A sad Dickensian council who should be absolutely ashamed of the mental anguish they are causing this vulnerable suffering man. Barbara R.

    Like

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