Our disabled children’s lives are at risk. Our children need safe homes: this concerns us all.
Disabled children at risk of death or serious injury
We are both mothers of children with autism. We're bringing our case to try to change the way that disabled children's housing needs are dealt with.
Our children ‘M’ and ‘A’ are aged 8 and 9. They are in danger every day because we live in unsuitable homes. We both live in flats which place our children at risk. Children like ours with autism do not understand danger and it is a constant struggle to keep our children safe. Our children are at risk of falling and the council have said things to us like, "a fall from a first floor balcony won't necessarily be fatal", or "the risk of a fatal accident isn't as imminent as in other cases". We just don't understand this and why after waiting many years our children still don't have a safe place to live. Many professionals have given us advice about the sort of environment our children need, but we have no hope of providing this in our current homes. We don't seek anything more than what we think will keep our children safe and meet their basic needs. We know there is a housing shortage but believe that children like ours with serious disabilities do need to be given extra consideration.
Please read our solicitor's explanation about our case and how we hope to change the way disabled children are treated to help other families as well as our own.
What our solicitor says about our case
Our solicitor is Rebekah Carrier, a solicitor with a busy housing practice in Inner London. A number of her firm's clients (like us) are single mothers with severely disabled children.
"'M' and 'A' are children with autism. They are known by their initials because they are vulnerable children. ‘M’ also has a severely disabled older brother. They live in very unsuitable housing where they can't be kept safe from falling and their needs for space to play and privacy cannot be met. Their mothers sought legal advice only after they had tried everything they could think of to get help for their vulnerable children.
"M & A live in flats which the council recognises pose a risk to them. The council assessed them as having 'urgent safety needs' over two years ago but they still remain in the same accommodation. We brought judicial review proceedings against the council's children's services refusal to make a request that they be provided with suitable accommodation and their failure to produce a plan as to how the needs of the children would be met. Unfortunately the judicial review was unsuccessful and we now want to appeal to the Court of Appeal. Our legal team considers that we have strong grounds of appeal."
Why this case matters
This is a very important case, not only for our children but for other children like them.
In June 2013 the autistic 7-year old child of one of our neighbours fell to her death from her 11th floor flat. The council had been urged to move the family and only a week before the accident there had been an assessment which said that 'it is not a question of if she falls but when'.
The child's death was predicted and completely avoidable. We know that there are many similar cases where children are living in flats above the ground floor where there is a risk of them falling to their death or sustaining serious injury. These children, like ours, have autism and have no sense of danger. We can be sure that there are similar children who live with such risks throughout the country. This case is therefore very important for many very vulnerable children.
How much we are raising and what it is for
We are seeking an initial sum of £3,000 to fund the initial application.
This money will be used for court fees and drafting the necessary papers. It is vital that this stage is properly prepared because if permission to appeal is refused that is the end of the matter and there will be nothing more we can do for these children.
If we are successful in being granted permission to appeal we will then seek a further £50,000 to cover the costs of the actual appeal. Although this seems a lot of money it is necessary to ensure that this profoundly important case can be properly presented so as to protect the interests of M & A and other vulnerable children like them.
About the claimant
We are both mothers of children with autism. Our children are in danger every day because of unsuitable housing. We want them to be kept safe.
What's at stake: Risk of death or serious injury to disabled children requires a robust application of the law to ensure appropriate action by local authorities. The next step: Funding is urgently required to bring this case before the Court of Appeal. Solicitors: M & A are represented by experienced housing and children's rights solicitors at Hopkin Murray Beskine.
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