Disabled Southwick woman forced to crawl up her front steps for six weeks after lift breaks

With thousands of people isolating in their homes to curb the spread of Coronavirus, one Southwick resident has already been trapped in hers for over six weeks.

Julie Harding, 38, needs a motorised lift to access her bungalow in Prince Charles Close, having used a wheelchair since 2012.

Disabled Southwick woman Julie Harding has a lift to her front door has been broken since 3rd Feb. Council haven't been to fix it, she has to crawl up her front steps. Pic Steve Robards SR2003203 SUS-200322-171446001

Disabled Southwick woman Julie Harding has a lift to her front door has been broken since 3rd Feb. Council haven't been to fix it, she has to crawl up her front steps. Pic Steve Robards SR2003203 SUS-200322-171446001

But on February 3 her lift broke and remains unfixed, despite repeated pleas to Adur District Council.

The mum-of-three has been forced to crawl up her front steps, lever herself along her front wall and more recently abandon going out entirely.

“It’s disgusting to be honest,” said Julie, who is entitled to reserved shopping hours for disabled people.

“People are going out panic buying but I have been stuck in for a month longer than anyone else because I can’t go anywhere without putting myself in a lot of pain and still have to deal with the queues and what not.”

Julie’s partner works full-time so cannot shop until after 6pm, when shelves have already been stripped by over-zealous shoppers.

Coronavirus panic buying and pain aside, she said having to drag herself up her own front steps was clearly demeaning.

After reporting her lift broken on February 3, a contractor visited and told her it would have to be replaced by the council.

Julie said she called the council four times between February 7 and 17, but could not get through, forcing her to cancel a wheelchair delivery on February 24.

Not until March 11 did she receive another visit from the contractor – who again checked the lift and told her it would need replacing.

She said she was told a new one would be installed ‘next Thursday’, without being given a specific date, but hoped that would soon bring an end to it.

A spokesman for the council said: “This was a complex repair which while underway uncovered other faults which needed working on. A completely new steplift was needed but due to the bespoke nature of these mechanisms there is a manufacturing lead-in time and given the current health crisis this has been extended. We are hoping it can now be installed this Thursday (March 26).

“We believed we had communicated this clearly to the tenant but apologise for any misunderstandings. We appreciate this has been very difficult for the tenant but hopefully it will be resolved very soon.”