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New Malden mum taking on council over change of home for son with SMA

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A mum from New Malden whose son suffers from a life-limiting muscular condition is calling on the council to change homes after highlighting the daily struggle they face.

Kelly Jones, who lives with her children on Mount Pleasant Road in New Malden, won hundreds of supporters in the community recently after posting a video on social media that underlined the difficulties she and her son Vinnie contend with every time they leave and return to their council-owned property.

The video post, which garnered hundreds of supportive ‘likes’ and many encouraging comments, showed the laborious and difficult steps Kelly takes to help Vinnie, who needs a wheelchair, get up the stairs of their council home and into his bedroom, along with his ventilator, chair and other vital equipment.

When Vinnie was just nine weeks old he was diagnosed with Spinal Muscular Atrophy (SMA), a genetic condition that makes the muscles weaker and causes problems with movement, eating, drinking and breathing.

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Photo of Vinnie during the November lockdown.

Speaking to the Surrey Comet, Kelly described their current situation:

“In 2017 after he was diagnosed we started trying to take action and said we needed to move ASAP. Now we are still here three years later.

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“I’ve been told a property has become available on our road for a month and because we are on the priority list me and my team were supposed to be contacted immediately but no-one had been in touch,” she said.

“The council’s approach to our case has been horrific, an absolute shambles,” Kelly added.

“They are supposed to keep us informed but there’s been a lack of communication.

“They’re supposed to keep me informed of the availability of certain properties, and they haven’t.

“They used the wrong person’s file when dealing with me and said I owed thousands of pounds in damages incorrectly,” she said, describing her contact with the council.

“They know how much I suffer with Vinnie and could have done something about it three years ago to make my life easier, but now we need to move desperately.”

This Is Local London: Kelly and Vinnie at the park recently. Kelly and Vinnie at the park recently.

Responding to a request for comment, a spokesperson for RBK said they were still working with Kelly to help find her family alternative accommodation, pinning the struggle largely on the existing social housing crisis that exists across the UK:

“We are working to help identify a suitable home for Ms Harrison that meets her family’s needs as soon as possible.

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“Ms Harrison is amongst those applicants with the highest priority on our Housing Register.

“Unfortunately, the wait she has experienced for a new home reflects the scarcity of available social housing, and specifically that which meets her family’s needs,” the spokesperson said, referring to Kelly with her marital name.

RBK dismissed Kelly’s suggestion of communication issues, claiming she had “been kept updated about our efforts to find suitable accommodation for her family and we are continuing to provide support while this work continues.”

They added a potential property had been identified by her Occupational Therapist who was “arranging a viewing… and will assess suitability (of the property) before any offers are made”.

As such, they raised the prospect of a possible move for Kelly and her children soon.

The New Malden mum, who was also keen to praise her social care team from Achieving for Children as “fantastic”, said the move could not come soon enough:

“I just want a suitable house where I don’t have to carry Vinnie up and down the stairs just to leave the property, because there will come a time when I can’t carry him,” she said.

“I’ve slept on the sofa for four years and there are only two bedrooms,” she pointed out, referencing her 11-year-old daughter who sleeps in the other bedroom.

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“To have an appropriate house…It would be life-changing.”

To donate to a GoFundMe set up for Vinnie, click here

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