How will the right to adequate housing make a difference in Wales? Jill talks about accessible housing and housing rights

Photo of Jill Wadley. Jill is wearing a cap and gown at her graduation, with a red dress and a diploma in hand. Jill is a white women with grey hair and glasses and is in. a wheelchair.


Tai Pawb’s David Rowlands sat down for a coffee with Jill Wadley; a disabled person, with experience of the housing sector to discuss her story and how she feels a right to adequate housing could make a difference in Wales…

First things first, having just met you I can tell you are originally from the Black Country like me – how long have you been living in south Wales?

I moved to Wales in 1975 when my Dad took up fulltime ministry at Griffithstown Baptist Church in Pontypool.

Can you tell us a bit about yourself?

I had an accident when I was a child, and my parents were told that one day I would likely become a wheelchair user having injured my back. After my marriage came to an end, I moved and I was initially a tenant of Torfaen County Borough Council before stock transfer took place in 2008, and I became a tenant of Bron Afon Community Housing Association.

How did your circumstances change?

Although I used crutches, I was finding that my back giving way and I kept falling over, thus the time had come to use a wheelchair. My husband Peter, and daughters, Delyth and Ionawr had to start helping around the house as I couldn’t do much around the house. The house we  lived in was not adaptable and was told we would have to move.

How did the process work for you?

The one thing that sticks out for me was the properties on the housing list available for social renters. We registered knowing that we would need a three bed, fully adaptable property, and we also needed to be within four miles of where my parents lived to be able to support them in their retirement. However, having been given a priority card, it kept being taken off me and was told I am not bidding on any properties. What they didn’t seem to understand is that I needed a property with 3 bedrooms and either a bungalow or a house with the ability to have a through floor lift allowing me access to the upstairs.

Did you find there were many properties that met your needs?

I was one of those who looked every week for a property that was available and would contact the Occupational Therapist and Surveyor when I thought it might be suitable with adaptations to allow us to live there. Unfortunately, we found that there were no properties available, that were of the size that we could live in. It became obvious that you could be disabled and move into a property of a certain size, or you could be a parent with a child who has disabilities and get access to a suitable property – but to be a disabled parent was another thing! It became a nightmare looking and looking yet nothing was available to be adapted.

That sounds like a really challenging process and period which must have been tough. How long did it take for you to get the home you needed?

After searching for three long years, we finally heard from the O.T., asking us to look at a property in Croesyceiliog that had become available, but would need to be updated and changes made to accommodate my disabilities. We had decided that we would not say yes on any property until we were able to show it to our daughters. They were both happy and we accepted the property but a move in date would be late autumn.

That’s great to hear you got the home you deserved sorted. Were you able to use the experience for anything positive?

Having become tenants of Bron Afon, my husband and I became part of “the membership committee,” but when we moved out of our area we had to step down. Not long after we were both approached to join the scrutiny team, they looked at the services that the landlord provided to ensure they were economic, efficient, and effectively working for the tenants. Doing this work; I became more interested in what and how Registered Social Landlord businesses worked. I completed a HNC and a Degree in Housing, I also became involved in Women in Housing Group and TPAS Cymru, as well as joining Bron Afon’s subsidiary company and trust boards. I did my work placement at Tai Pawb and researched the wait times of tenants requiring accessible housing, as well as looking at whether it was adapted correctly.

It sounds like you’ve been on quite a journey – do you think things are changing?

I am now a board member of Bron Afon and still I am concerned at the lack of family accessible housing, whether it’s the child or parent who requires this. I am also a community peer researcher for Intersectional Stigma of Place-based Aging. This is where we have a number of researchers throughout the UK who will keep 6 diaries over the next 3 years, which will be incorporated into a document that will be presented to the UK government – in order to make changes about the stigma of people living with disabilities face, and aging living in suitable housing to what they need, not what is perceived as they need!

What do you think is the change needed in Wales?

I support “Back the Bill – The Right to Adequate Housing in Wales.” We want to see a major improvement in the suitability of housing for all and not just accessible housing. Regardless of who we are and where we come from housing is so important, as well as living in a home that is safe, warm, secure, and suitable for those who live there.

Looking back on your story, what difference would a right to adequate housing have made?

I believe a right to adequate housing would mean there are more accessible houses that meet people’s needs. It would make sure more houses were built, and also lead to involving disabled people in the planning process to make sure the homes are suited to different needs like disabled families.  It could also mean they were built in the right places so we can stay local to family members, facilities and public transport. I also believe that a good home being a right would be empowering for disabled people and make those in charge of housing think differently about our needs.

Thanks so much for your time, Jill. And good luck with your work and campaigning in the future.

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