“It was soul destroying”, Ashley recalls as he thinks back to the struggles of his first night at home after his injury. Ashley was involved in a traffic accident when he sustained a spinal cord injury and was instantly paralysed from the waist down.

His stay in hospital was lengthy and his rehabilitation was tough. He had to adjust to his disability and learn how to do everything again.

He said: “I was ready to leave hospital as soon as possible. I really didn’t want to be there for longer than I needed to be. I needed to get back to my family. We hadn’t spent time together for such a long time.”

At the time of his accident Ashley lived with his partner Kim and young daughter Nancy in what seemed like the ideal flat. “We had only been in our flat for 18 months when I had the accident. It was across the road from Kim’s work and our little girl’s nursery – it was really convenient for us.”

However, after an OT’s assessment during one of his short stays at hospital, they quickly confirmed that the flat was unsuitable for Ashley. He said: “It was soul destroying. I could only access the living room and half of the kitchen and only one side of the bedroom. I would’ve never survived in the flat. I couldn’t wash for myself, cook for myself. If I was at home alone with Nancy I wasn’t going to be able to look after her safely. I would always need someone there with me.”

Ashley, Kim and Nancy

Only two weeks after the injury Kim found out she was pregnant with their second child. “She kept it from me for a while as she wasn’t sure how I would take it.

“Family means a lot to me and Kim. Kim spent months going back and forth to the hospital. It was important that we kept Nancy in a routine so our families worked in shifts in order to look after her and visit the hospital. She has adapted really well actually. I think she might be the one who has been least affected by what happened. She just gets on with it.”

With the family quickly growing and access being top of priorities for the couple, they submitted an application to the council for accessible housing. The application process was long-winded and achieved nothing for the family. Ashley said: “The council couldn’t give us any answers and couldn’t make any promises. All they said to us was that this wasn’t a simple case.”

During his stay at the spinal centre Ashley came across Aspire and the Aspire Housing Programme. “Kim’s concern was my safety; living somewhere accessible. It was a real relief when we came across Aspire Housing.” The Aspire Housing Team were able to allocate Ashley, Kim and Nancy an accessible property near where they lived that Ashley could freely move around in. He said: “It makes a big difference being able to get about the house. I don’t have to ask Kim for much now. She can just go out and leave me and Nancy to it.

“Our parents’ houses are not built for wheelchairs so we can’t visit them much but they are able to come to us. I think we get more visitors now than we ever did in the old place!”

Ashley, Kim and Nancy at Christmas

The couple moved in to the property a few weeks before Christmas and made sure the first thing they did was put up the Christmas tree together. Ashley said: “It feels good to be together. I really struggled being away from my family. The Aspire house was really our only option; being apart from my family was not.”

After only a few months living in the property Ashley, Kim and Nancy moved in to an adapted home of their own and have recently welcomed a new fourth member to the family.

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