Belfast Telegraph

Tuesday 23 September 2014

Heartbreaking wait for a homeless family of disabled boy taken into emergency care

Jack Fisher who has been separated from his family and taken into emergency care

The mother of a disabled boy taken into emergency care last week when his family were made homeless says there is no sign of them being reunited in the near future.

Danielle, her husband Lee and their two children Arianna (15 months) and Jack (8) found themselves homeless after the Housing Executive deemed their rented three storey home in Dundonald "completely unsuitable" for the family's specialist needs.

Jack's severe disabilities mean he is confined to a wheelchair. His parents were forced to carry him up and down stairs – a task that was becoming backbreaking as he grew bigger and heavier.

"Jack is the normal size of an almost nine-year-old boy," his mother said. "It was at the point where I just couldn't lift him any more."

The Fishers gave the Housing Executive two months' notice that they needed a new home and were all set to move into a property the organisation had found for them.

Problems arose when occupational therapists decided the new house was unsuitable, and with nowhere else to go the family found themselves homeless.

While Jack is being cared for at Forest Lodge Care Home in Musgrave Park the rest of his family are staying with Danielle's father in his one-bedroom apartment in Dundonald.

"There is no room here, we're squeezed in on top of each other – my dad is sleeping on the sofa," Danielle said.

"We have been offered a three bedroom bungalow in Lisburn but that's no good as we'd have to move Jack's school. We need something in the Dundonald area.

"The Housing Executive are doing everything they can but there's just not enough suitable housing around," she added.

After recounting her family's plight on BBC Radio Ulster last week, Danielle was contacted by a listener hoping they could offer the Fishers temporary rental accommodation in Crawfordsburn.

"Unfortunately it looks like that's not going to work out," Danielle said. "There seem to be some legal issues around the property which mean we can't take it.

"We did make the Housing Executive aware of the offer though and they're looking into it as well.

"I'm at the point now where I'm ready to do anything just to get my family back together. I'm sure Jack's starting to wonder if he's ever coming home," she added.

A Housing Executive spokesperson said: "Danielle Fisher has requested accommodation in the Ballybeen area where she has family support.

"A couple of properties have been identified and we are working with the occupational therapists regarding their suitability in meeting Danielle's particular family needs.

"We remain totally committed to resolving Danielle's current housing situation as quickly as possible."

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