Within minutes of moving into their brand new home at Wolsey Island, Leicester, the Omar family knew their lives had changed for the better.
The three-bedroomed fully adapted house has the space and facilities needed to cater for the needs of six-year-old Mango who has cerebral palsy and epilepsy and uses a wheelchair.
“We’ve never had an adapted home before and it changed our lives within 10 minutes of moving in,” says mum-of-three Faisa Ali. “Now I look back and wonder how we managed at our old homes in London and Leicester. It was hell for six years.
“My daughter has profound disabilities and is big for her age so it was very difficult living in our previous rented accommodation which wasn’t at all suitable for her needs, or those of our family.
“Mango has a hospital bed which helps us to care for her but we had to put it in the living room at our previous privately rented house in Leicester because she was too heavy to carry up and down stairs safely. This was hard for everyone as when we went upstairs to bed she was downstairs, separate from her family.
Mango had no space of her own either. I used to screen an area off so she had a little privacy for her personal care and getting dressed, but it was difficult when she had one-to-one carer sessions and physiotherapy, or when the paramedics needed to treat her.
“That house was on a noisy busy road and Mango had allergic reactions to the dust and had a lot of seizures at night because the noise and light from passing traffic disturbed her sleep.”
The Omars, Faisa Ali, husband Abdullahi and their three young children are new to Midland Heart and in May were among the first tenants to move into newly-completed affordable houses on the attractive canal-side development built in partnership with Westleigh Partnerships Ltd.
The house has wider doorways for wheelchair access to all rooms and the garden, wet room with shower, adjustable height kitchen worktops, cooker hob and sink, electric wheelchair charging point, and covered parking and walkway to the front door. Meanwhile, a lift with wheel-in, wheel-out access for a wheelchair has revolutionised daily life.
“Mango now has her own bedroom upstairs where she has privacy for her personal care and chat-and-play sessions with her carer. The physiotherapist and paramedics have space to do their work, while her little brothers can use the living room to play,” explained Faisa.
“Best of all, there’s a lift which takes her up and down stairs in her wheelchair at the touch of a button. Mango loves riding in it and it has made our lives so much easier.
“Everything, such as getting Mango ready for school in the morning, used to take so long, now it seems so quick. Her allergies have cleared up and she’s had very few seizures at night since moving here. It’s so peaceful, she doesn’t keep waking up.
“I look back and wonder ‘how did we do this before’? “
Glenn Harris, Chief Executive of Midland Heart, said: “Midland Heart’s ambition is to provide a year-on-year increase in the number of high quality housing at affordable rent, in areas where people want to live. Our presence in Leicester is growing, and we are delighted to be able to help meet local demand for affordable housing, as well as give disused land a new lease of life for the benefit of the local community.
“It is always pleasing, therefore, to receive customer endorsement of our efforts and in this instance it is clear that this specially adapted property is having a very positive impact on the lives of a young family.”
City Mayor Peter Soulsby said: “The new housing development at Wolsey Island is shaping up to be something very special.
“Westleigh Partnerships and Midland Heart are doing a fantastic job and creating a thriving and fully inclusive new neighbourhood at this fantastic location, which will help to meet the growing demand for high-quality housing in Leicester.”
Wolsey Island is the first of three developments in Leicester by Midland Heart and Westleigh Partnerships Ltd providing a range of housing, including affordable rent and shared ownership, and regenerating disused land at a total cost of £58.3 million.
The development is being built on the former Wolsey factory site known locally as Sock Island. The other sites are at St Mary’s, former allotments on Old Saffron Lane, Aylestone, and Green Lane Road, another former factory site.