was born in Newport but I spent the first six years of my life in London as a guest of some of their hospitals. Deb was born, and lived most of her life, in Bridgend. We became a couple 24 years ago but have been friends for 43 years. We set up a home together on the 20th of May in 1996 on Roding Close, Newport, but it was never going to be plain sailing.
In our 20 or so years of living here, we have been the victims of theft, threats, flood, bullying, accusations, demands for money and even a fire! The fire was in a neighbour's dwelling but did show us the risks around us. Faced with all of this, we wanted something done but it never was. So, we decided that we should move to a better, safer and more suitable form of accommodation. The problem was that all they did was offer us yet more flats. So, we gave up on that idea for a while believing that this was the best that we were going to get and that we should be grateful, shut up and not say anything so as not to rock the boat. We have now had as much as we could take, it was a case of 'better the devil you know'.
The stock transfer came and we wondered if things would get better. At first, we didn't notice a difference but as time has gone on we are beginning to see things improve for the better. Newport City Hames undertook a 'Getting to Know You' survey which indicated to them the full diversity of residences they have. This showed them, for the first time, those of us living with a disability. This is an important detail which had not been noted at any time prior to this, in spite of our repeated attempts to do so with the then council's housing department.
Considering that Social Services has these details, this anomaly shocked us.
This oversight only came to light when we registered to bid with Home Options Newport. Following some glitches, things were going as we would have expected, being one of the approximate 6800 families wanting to move or get a new home in Wales. Newport City Homes again came to our aid, as they would with all their tenants. The lettings team spotted an error on our housing application, feeling that we had been wrongly banned. So, they looked into it on our behalf. It was a good result as not long after this we received a letter from Home Options advising us about the correction, which was really good news for us. Those involved in helping us should be given a pat on the back! People are only too eager to complain when people get it wrong and won't say anything like 'well done' when they get it right.
It was some of this which led to us becoming, dare we say, involved. Involved residents working with them to create better services, better communities and more homes in places where people want to live. We were so concerned about being trodden on and lost in the mix that we felt that we had a choice. We could simply do nothing and let things go on as they are or stand up for what we believe in and feel strongly about.
There's an expression: 'The squeaky wheel gets the oil'. I'd like to think that we are that squeaky wheel, hopefully stopping us and countless others from getting lost in the mix and giving the disabled people of Newport that voice where it's needed.
So, if you're reading this and have been in this or a similar situation we recommend that you contact your landlord or letting agency who will have someone on hand to advise you but, most importantly, never throw in the towel and give up. Think of your health, wellbeing and future happiness. Don't let anyone put you down - it's not worth just giving up.
Take care out there. Hawkeye and Dangerous.