'Disgraceful': Disabled and elderly neighbours 'trapped' in Old Street homes by broken lift
PUBLISHED: 17:39 28 November 2019 | UPDATED: 16:07 02 December 2019
Disabled and elderly people were "trapped" for five days when a lift in their Old Street block broke down earlier this month.
Amputee Derek Bassett, 72, was housebound and missed doctor's appointments while the only lift in Menard Court wasn't working, and says another neighbour had to carry her disabled teenager and his oxygen tanks up the stairs.
The building is mostly managed by Islington and Shoreditch Housing Association (ISHA), which has apologised for the inconvenience and since fixed the lift.
ISHA sent a text to all its residents "within 24 hours" of the lift - which had been faulty for weeks - being taken out of service.
But neighbours living in two flats managed by Apnar Ghar housing association - a small firm providing "accessible" flats for disabled people, weren't immediately contacted.
Retired cab driver and Apnar Ghar tenant, Derek, told the Gazette: "I was stuck indoors for days, I couldn't get out. I have already had two heart attacks and all the stress of it was getting to me, but there's nothing you can do.
"I missed an appointment at the Royal Free because of it for my foot. I felt trapped."
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When the lift first broke down Derek said he was sitting downstairs "freezing" for "over an hour" before someone came to help him upstairs.
Speaking before the lift was repaired, Bunhill Cllr Troy Gallagher said: "It's got a lot of vulnerable residents in it. Disabled residents are literally trapped, it's a disgrace.
"One resident rang me yesterday and said: 'I'm breaking down', she is a carer for one of the people in wheelchairs.
"There are other residents there who can't leave their flats. It's unbelievable, it's a health and safety hazard waiting to happen. All these people are pensioners."
Cllr Gallagher said he "laid into" ISHA at a public meeting after a fire broke out in the block a few years ago, and he fears bosses haven't learned lessons from the incident.
An ISHA spokesperson said: "The lift is now working. We apologise to our and Apna Ghar's residents for the inconvenience.
"Due to the urgent nature of the work needed, we were not able to let residents know as quickly as we would have liked about the lift being out of service.
"The individual needs of residents were our very highest priority - which is why we liaised with residents' families, social services and health services; the ISHA team visited every day to offer help and support; and we arranged a 24-hour on-call service for residents to help them with anything they might need."