A paraplegic veteran who lost the use of his legs after a motorcycle crash waited nearly five years for accessible housing.
Now, 25-year-old Louis Clegg and his partner, Ellise Forrest, have moved into a new adapted home with their two-year-old dog, a Lhasa Apso, named Mali.
The couple have been waiting since Mr Clegg, a former soldier in 2nd Battalion, the Royal Regiment of Scotland (2 SCOTS), was involved in an accident on December 22, 2015.
He was left with a spinal cord injury, and became completely paraplegic, losing all function in the lower half of his body.
Their new two-bedroom bungalow is one of 13 allocated to veterans by Riverside Scotland on their new development in Tarryholme, Irvine, where more than 60% of homes have been built to suit wheelchair users and people with additional mobility needs.
“We waited so long on accessible housing and what a relief it was to be offered this opportunity and make all our worries disappear,” Ms Forrest, 24, said.
“With Louis suffering a spinal cord injury and being completely paraplegic, he is loving the ability to live day to day and do whatever is in his mind without a worry.”
The pair were given a choice between two homes on the development, with Mr Clegg choosing the one with a bigger garden for Mali to play around in.
“Veterans First Point helped us with our situation, and we couldn’t be more grateful for them giving Louis’s name for a veteran’s home,” Ms Forrest said.
“We count ourselves lucky as we could be still sitting in the same situation we were beforehand!”
She added: “Having a home specifically designed around accessibility has been life changing for us.
“And we really have the best neighbours. It’s a lovely estate and we feel really lucky to call it our home.”
Another addition to Riverside’s Tarryholme development is the family of a little girl with cerebral palsy.
Lyn Sargent, 41, her partner Gareth Rae, 40, and their daughter, Sophie, recently made the move from an upper floor maisonette into to a two-bedroom bungalow after waiting three years.
Sophie, who turns five this week, has autism, cerebral palsy and is non-verbal – mum Ms Sargent described the move as “life changing”.
She said: “Our flat was a nightmare with Sophie’s disabilities. It was damp and I had 30 concrete steps to climb and another 15 stairs inside.
“Sophie can walk but gets very tired. We got given a wheelchair, but I couldn’t use it through the week myself as it was too heavy to carry up and down all the steps. I had to wait until Gareth was off at the weekends.”
Little Sophie was initially assessed by an occupational therapist during Covid, via video call, and the long physical assessment process left them off the accessible housing list for quite while.
“Only after going to my MSP Ruth Maguire and having an OT come to the house were we awarded the points we needed to move,” Ms Sargent continued.
“Within a few weeks we got the call we’d been hoping for.
“I was crying and Gareth initially thought I’d received bad news. It still feels like a dream! It’s amazing to look out the back door and see Sophie playing in the garden with her toys.
“She’s been enjoying the paddling pool in the good weather. She loves her new room. It’s so cosy and she can wander from room to room as she pleases, and I don’t worry she’s going to fall on the stairs.”
“Going out is so easy now. I just grab the wheelchair out the hall cupboard and I’m straight out the door – no hassle.
“We feel 100 times better knowing Sophie’s safe and everything’s on the level. It really has changed our lives and I’m so grateful to be living in such a lovely area.”
Both families were visiting by Scottish housing minister, Paul McLennan MSP, last week to celebrate the completion of the second phase the development.
Tarryholme’s 77 new homes were supported by £6m Scottish Government grant funding and have been built to Housing for Varying Needs Standards.
In total, Riverside Scotland has delivered 164 new homes at Tarryholme in partnership with Dalry-based McTaggart Construction, after 87 new homes were initially delivered back in 2019.
McLennan chose to visit Tarryholme as part of his summer tour to find out more about the new homes and the Housing for Varying Needs Standards.
He said: “The Tarryholme housing development is an excellent example of how safe, warm and affordable homes can transform lives.
“Residents with specific requirements, including veterans are now living in much needed new accessible homes which has been life-changing.
“These 77 affordable new homes were supported by £6m Scottish Government funding, contributing to our commitment to deliver 110,000 affordable homes across Scotland by 2032.
“At least 70% of these will be for social rent and 10% will be in remote, rural and island communities.”