An ex-police officer and England lacrosse player fears he will soon be made homeless.
Ben Howells, 45, was served notice on his Sale flat in September last year after his landlady became ill, and had to leave for good a couple of months ago. He says he contacted Trafford HOST ( Housing Options Service Trafford) to find an accessible home as soon as he learned of his upcoming eviction.
But, despite his requests and the fact he had to have an operation to amputate his left leg a week after leaving his flat, he says he has only been offered accommodation in Fallowfield and Audenshaw.
This is despite his support network being based in Sale and his daughter going to school at Trafford College and working in Timperley.
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Ben, who had to have the amputation after injuring his leg in 2015, claims the council told him they could not start looking for suitable accommodation for him until after his operation on January 17.
He is currently living in a Trafford Park hotel – paid for by the hospital – but says the council has since told him he needs to wait until his hotel stay ends on March 7 before emergency accommodation could be sought.
Ben says he and his daughter, 16-year-old Cadee, as well as his mental health support dog ‘Taz’, will be left ‘homeless’ due to the multiple delays.
Trafford Council says the delays are due to the ‘extremely high demand’ for wheelchair accessible flats but say they will do ‘everything they can’ to help him find accommodation.
‘All they say is they don’t have any available’
“I was served notice on my flat in September, which I used to own myself and delivered my daughter in, as the landlady has become ill. I notified HOST straight away,” Ben tells the MEN from his parents flat in Sale.
“In this time my leg amputation was confirmed for January and over Christmas I was put up in a B&B in Fallowfield. I’ve been suffering with mental health issues for around two decades and this really worsened things, I couldn’t cope in the Fallowfield accommodation it wasn’t suitable at all.
“I couldn’t get in contact at all with the council for two weeks over Christmas which made things a whole lot worse and I really struggled with my mental health then.”
Ben has a support dog, Taz, which would also need to be accommodated at a new property. But Ben says he has been in many conversations with the council where he’s been told there is nothing appropriate in the Trafford area.
He added: “I had nowhere to be released to after the operation. I was in the hospital after the amputation for a few weeks before they put me up in a hotel, they needed the bed and I didn’t need to be there.
“I’ve been looking at the council housing list every time it comes out on a Wednesday and constantly asking about accessible accommodation but all they say is they don’t have any available. I feel like I’ve been lied to again and again .
“All I’ve been told is available is Audenshaw which is ridiculous. How is my daughter meant to get to college in Trafford and work at 7.30am in Timperley from there? It’s so far away from the support network I need for mental health and mobility support too.
“My mental health has been in the gutter through this, we’ve been under immense pressure. How can I do anything when I don’t even have a home?”
Ben, who needed an amputation after a bad accident in 2015, says he has been left furious by how he feels he has been treated.
“It just feels like so many promises haven’t been delivered. We’ve done everything they have asked and got nothing back. The goalposts are constantly being moved.
“Cadee has been staying at my parents sometimes because we shouldn’t be sharing a hotel room but it’s unfair on them too. Both have health issues and this is putting them through so much strain.
“First I had to wait until I was evicted until somewhere could be looked for, then I had to get the amputation before somewhere accessible could be looked for, now I have to become homeless. It’s putting so much strain on me, my daughter, and the rest of my family.”
Cadee, who’s currently studying in year 12 at Trafford College, added: “It’s been giving me really bad anxiety.
“But I don’t want my education to get in the way of dad getting a place, it’s been a really tough time.”
Ben played international lacrosse with England in the 90s and had many jobs, including working as a police officer, on property, and even as a photographer for Sale Sharks rugby after his accident.
‘It doesn’t seem normal’
But of his current situation, added: “On Monday I could be put anywhere in the North West, it’s horrible to think about.
“It doesn’t seem normal that a council like Trafford can’t have housing for disabled people, and I can’t be the only one struggling with this too. I don’t want to be a sponge on the economy, I’ I am very driven with getting my career back but need somewhere to live as a minimum.
“I want to get back into my career in estate agency and property, I’m very determined. I want to bring wheelchair lacrosse to England too. I’ve got so many ambitions but I feel like I’m being held back by just not being helped with getting a property. I just want to provide for my family.”
A spokesperson for Trafford Council said: “There is extremely high demand for affordable wheelchair-friendly housing in Trafford and properties of this type are in short supply.
“We will do everything we can to help the gentleman find suitable accommodation. If he would like to discuss his application in more detail, we would invite him to call Housing Options Service Trafford on 0161 912 2230. ”
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George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.