In The South

Gay paraplegic remains ‘trapped’ in second floor flat despite Council assurances to move him 6 months ago

Besi Besemar April 5, 2017

A gay man with no use or feeling in legs remains ‘trapped’ in unsuitable temporary accommodation in Hove despite promises from Brighton & Hove City Council on October 12 to find somewhere more suitable for him with wheel chair access.


Robert Carver 32, has been living in second floor temporary council accommodation that has no lift, for the last 5 years. During that time his condition has deteriorated considerably, especially in the last 6 months.

Robert says: ” I am a paraplegic, with no use or feeling in either of my legs. I started suffering from a disease five years ago which is so rare that a formal accurate diagnosis is not available, but is most likely to have been caused by a brain virus.”

Clinical investigations are ongoing but Robert says his condition is totally irreversible and his health has deteriorated considerably in recent months.

For the past two years, he has been unable to walk or use his legs and remains in second floor, temporary council accommodation, with a steep and narrow staircase, which is clearly totally unsuitable for the needs of someone who cannot use their legs.

He says his social worker and many council professionals have witnessed his situation first hand. This includes having, when he leaves the flat to go to hospital appointments, to have to lower himself using his arms and bouncing his bottom down the steep staircase to get out of the flat. Often he falls in the process hurting himself.

When he returns to the flat after medical appointments, Robert says: “It can take anything from an hour or more with assistance to pull myself up, step by step. How can that be fair, safe or reasonable?”

The flat is tiny and cramped, and none of the doorways are suitable for wheelchairs so he has to pull himself around on the floor, dragging his dead legs behind him.

There is little space in the bathroom for his part-time carer to help him and getting into his bath is very dangerous.

All of this means he is constantly damaging his bones and joints. He claims the damage is so bad that his doctors are refusing to embark on new treatments which could ease his condition until he is moved to more suitable accommodation.

In recent weeks, Robert says his condition has dramatically deteriorated. He can no longer move from his sofa and on the two days his 18-year-old carer is off, he is sometimes left without food, drink or the ability to go to the toilet or get washed.

Robert uses adult nappies and says that sometimes he has to sit in his own faeces until the next day when his carer returns.

He says: “I need accessible ground floor accommodation as a matter of urgency. I also now require a live-in carer, instead of the 28 hours per week I get at the moment, so I need a two bedroom property with suitable wheelchair access.”

His present flat is tiny, making the use of a wheelchair very difficult if not impossible.

He continues: “Currently I cannot use a wheelchair in this flat and due to my worsening condition I now have to be pulled around on the floor like an animal by my carer if he has to move me.

“It seems I am rather lost in the system. I get frustrated with my social worker as she seems not to be able to help me in the slightest and my young age seems to be a discriminating factor towards me getting the correct level of assistance. Why was I only classified as Level 1 on the mobility level three months ago?”

In desperation, in early October, Robert posted details of his plight on Facebook asking for help.

He wrote: “I would appreciate any assistance anyone could offer in rectifying all these matters and to end my suffering. No one should have to live like this.”

Robert claims in the last five years he has only ever been offered one other property by the Council, a property which Caroline Lucas the MP for Brighton Pavilion says is not suitable for housing vulnerable people.

ITV news brought Robert’s situation to the attention of their viewers when they ran a news story on Meridian on October 12.

To view the news story, click here:

At the time the council issued the following statement to ITN news: “We are aware that Mr. Carver’s condition has deteriorated and we also recognise that his current accommodation is unsuitable. We’ve recently acquired some emergency accommodation with wheel chair adapted units and were hoping to move him in on an interim basis in the next couple of weeks. Unfortunately there is an acute shortage of accommodation available that is suitable for his needs.”

Since that statement the Council have offered Mr Carver a bungalow in Whitehawk that was not wheelchair accessible and a ground floor studio in emergency accommodation in central Brighton notorious for damp, drug-use, drug-dealing and anti social behaviour, described by Caroline Lucas MP for Brighton Pavilion as being unsuitable for disabled people and previously ruled out by Brighton & Hove Council when they withdrew an offer of the property to Mr Carver in March 2016.

Robert has confirmed to Gscene that in the last 5 years he was never made aware that there was a dedicated LGBT housing officer working in the council’s housing team.

Brighton and Hove City council withdrew the LGBT housing post in June last year and has chosen not to respond to Gscene’s enquiry as to when that decision was made and which LGBT+ community groups were consulted by the Council’s housing department before making the decision to withdraw the post.