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Mum with one leg forced to climb urine-soaked stairs up to her flat

Tracy Whiteside sitting on the flight of steps leading to her flat

A Scottish mother with one leg says she had to ‘crawl on concrete stairs’ covered in ‘urine and drug users’ needles’ so she could reach her flat, despite there being around 100 empty council homes nearby.

Tracey Whiteside, from Linwood, Renfrewshire, was told by her local council she was a priority for a new home - but she has waited for almost four years.

The mum-of-one has to crawl up 17 dirty, unhygienic, stairs to her flat on the second floor whilst Renfrewshire Council plan to bulldoze the empty houses situated just a mile away.

She told the Daily Record: “I’ve been forced to crawl up concrete stairs on my hands and knees to get to my front door whilst there are 100 homes lying empty down the road. 

“Why can’t one of those homes be adapted to suit people like me? But the council will probably knock them down and sell off instead of building new homes as well. It’s happening everywhere and people like me are left prisoners in our own homes.

“I can’t even go for a bath because my whole flat is unsuitable. I even need to crawl about my home to get the toilet. It’s soul destroying.”

Whiteside decided to have a leg amputated in August 2020 after forty years trying to live with the distress and pain triggered by a congenital disorder and neurofibromatosis which caused her to break a leg when she was 16 months old.

The mum also has non-cancerous tumours running down her spine which she finds incredibly painful.

She only leaves the flat for GP appointments or to attend a local support group for amputees.

“I only go out unless I absolutely have to. There’s days when I just feel like giving up and I feel as if it's all my fault or that I’m just putting extra stress on my family,” Whiteside explained.

“It’s badly affecting my mental health and I’ve got absolutely no dignity. The stairs are so filthy and I’m surprised I’ve not caught any infections going up them. Sometimes I’ve crawled through urine and not realised it, I’ve often burst into tears when I’ve been dragging myself up them in crippling pain.

“It’s even worse if somebody else is there and you're on your hands and knees like an animal.”

Doctors have expressed concern that if she carries on walking up and down the stairs, the pressure could lead to her other leg becoming severely damaged leading to a second amputation.

Whiteside said: “I’ve damaged the joints in my right leg doing it. I dislocated my shoulder and fractured my collarbone from crawling up the stairs. The damage that is being done to my other leg means I could lose it. My health is only going to get worse and worse living here. I feel like these stairs will be the death of me.”

The mum believes the only solution is being moved to a new home.

She added:  “I keep being told I’m priority, but this has been the same story since November 2019. I'm number 66 on the waiting list and when I speak to them all they say is ‘you’ll get a house when you get a house'."

Scottish MSP Katy Clark says she is “appalled” how Whiteside has been treated by her local council.

Clark said: “I am appalled to hear of the challenges Ms Whiteside is facing. She deserves a safe and secure home that is accessible and suitable to her needs, but like so many she is being failed by those responsible for supporting her.

"Social housing in this country is broken. There must be no more excuses. Ministers should reverse budget cuts and aim to pursue a large-scale national acquisition policy

MP for Paisley and Renfrewshire North, Gavin Newlands SNP said: “I met with Tracey at a visit a couple of weeks ago. Amputees simply shouldn’t have to put up with what Tracey has put up with for far too long.

"Her current property clearly isn’t suitable at all for her needs and she needs a move as quickly as possible to a house that accommodates her properly and maintains her dignity – which is unacceptably not the case at the moment." I’ve urgently contacted Renfrewshire Council to raise Tracey’s case and do whatever I can to speed things up. I understand the pressures they are under but Tracey simply can’t wait any longer."

A spokesperson for Renfrewshire Council said: “The health and wellbeing of our tenants is our top priority. Our Local Housing Office is working to source suitable accommodation for the Whiteside family to meet their needs and has arranged a home visit to discuss this with them and will continue to do everything we can to resolve the situation as quickly as possible. "

[ Renfrewshire Council has slashed £200 million from this year’s housing budget. ]

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