A FAMILY have released distressing video showing how their disabled son has been forced to scramble up and down the stairs at his home for nine years.
Steven Berry, 18, has cerebral palsy and is forced to shuffle down the stairs on his bottom and crawl up on his hands and knees.
His family accuse their local council of failing to deliver on their promise to find suitable accommodation, despite the fact he has been on a “priority list” since 2009.
As a result, the teenager is forced to make the difficult, tiring and potentially dangerous climb and descent several times a day.
Family friend Rachael Barrett posted two videos exposing Steven’s plight, one showing him coming down the stairs on his bottom and other showing him crawl up on his hands and knees.
Getting up the stairs, even with a supporting hand on his back, takes 38 seconds.
Going down, one step at a time on his bottom with both hands down at either side for support, takes 50 seconds in the video and he has not even reached the last step.
Rachael described the tortuous experience the family have gone through in trying to secure a place to stay which meets Steven’s needs.
She wrote: “On behalf of the Berry family we are having to take to social media as the council are ignoring this case again.
“Steven has cerebral palsy, wheelchair user, very limited speech and takes seizures.
“He is living in a private let that does not meet his needs in many ways. He has been on West Lothian Council priority list since 2009, he was ignored until his mum went to MPs and councillors.”
The first real offer of a home which suited Steven was made in July 2016 but work has not even started on this yet, according to Rachael.
And temporary accommodation offered in the meantime does not appear to deliver on Steven’s needs as laid out by a doctor and social workers, she added.
“Steven has been let down and the reason behind this is because he is being penalised for living in a private let, a very dangerous one that he has struggled for the best part of a decade in,” she said.
“He’s not the one who has not followed rules so why should he be penalised and moved out his town and routine or made to crawl like you see in the video and risk his life for another two years?”
Social media users reacted with disgust at the way Steven has been treated.
Karen Gray said: “This is shocking and a total disgrace. Shambles isn’t the word for these people it’s just the fact that they are ignorant and clearly not doing what they should be. This is not acceptable, this makes me angry to think that these people don’t give a s*** about this young man’s situation or circumstances.”
Paul Brooks said: “That’s absurd eight years on the waiting list, high risk, high priority, completely bloody ignored, I’m disgusted. If it was me I’d be onto a solicitor to try and sue the council.”
Linda Gracie said: “Disgraceful, council you should be ashamed of yourself.”
Liddy Smith added: “Poor lad. Suspect he’s a victim of government cuts. Councils no longer have the funds they once did to help.”
Speaking today, Steven’s mum, Kerry, 35, said: “The regulations haven’t been followed. A priority case is supposed to be updated every six months but I’ve only got three letters from the council from over the nine years.
“Since last year I’ve been on anxiety tablets because I’ve been worrying about Stevo getting up for the toilet and falling.
“I don’t think they know how much this affects us.”
Kerry believes that the council’s offers of accommodation have been made in full knowledge that they weren’t going to be able to accept them.
She added: “They’re trying to fob us of. They’re trying to say that they’ve done what they can but they haven’t.
“They’re trying to make us move to Blackburn but we can’t move away from our support network. I’ve got an 8-year-old in school with her own problems and they know how bad my own health has got.”
A spokesman for West Lothian Council said: “The council has had suitable accommodation available but due to the family’s desire to stay in Armadale, within a particular type of house, the family have been unable to move.
“Mrs Berry has advised that they are unable to accept a ground floor, four in a block style property and would also not be able to accept a house with ground floor bedroom and bathroom. This restricts the family to seeking a bungalow style accommodation of which there is limited supply in West Lothian.
“The family have also advised that they need to restrict their area to Armadale where lettings are not expected to be considered for some time. Although the reasons for restriction of area are understood this in turn leads to further delays in the Council being able to meet the family’s needs.”
“The Council is continuing to work with the family and their application has been assessed at the highest level as a result of their son’s exceptional need and the fact that their current accommodation is not suitable or adaptable. Mrs Berry has been advised that through our new build programme the family are in a favourable position for consideration to receive an offer for suitable accommodation in a number of communities.
“West Lothian Council does work with other specialist social landlords in order to meet people’s needs. The family have been nominated to a local housing association and they are currently under offer for a property in line with their needs. The housing association has since confirmed that the family have refused the offer.”