The family in Bolton waiting three years to move into dream home for disabled son

  • Report by Granada Reports journalist Jennifer Buck

A couple who tried to adapt their home for their son with cerebral palsy have been forced to live in a building site after encountering problem after problem.

Ian and Joanne Brown had plans approved to make their home in Bolton more accessible for nine-year-old Thomas, who uses a wheelchair, in 2019.

They had hoped the adaptations would mean he could live comfortably on the ground floor.

But the work to create something suitable for his needs has barely got off the ground due to problems like the pandemic, rising prices, and the most recent storms.

Joanne says: "I'm gutted, it's my house and it's where we have chosen to stay with him, we want to bring him up here for the rest of his life and have it right for him, for us and for the girls as well because they have to walk past it all and live the way we're living at the moment.

"It's just not right for anybody the stress, and all the delays and the extra cost, it's taken its toll."

Thomas's family want to build a home to give him independence and ensure he can move around without problems.

Ian and Joanne were told Thomas had little chance of survival after being born almost 25 weeks premature.

He has cerebral palsy, Hydrocephalus, epilepsy, cortical visual impairment and developmental delays. He is unlikely to ever walk and needs help with all his care needs.

But Thomas defied the odds and is developing well, enjoying playing with his twin sister Mia.

To ensure they could look after his needs Ian and Joanne decided to undertake the dream modifications to their home.

They remortgaged their home, and began fundraising and saving until they had reached the £150,000 needed for the refurbishment.

Joanne says: "We are going to have a parking space so his wheelchair vehicle can come round, and we can get him off down the ramp into what will be a nice big kitchen and dining area with an accessible table and things he can use himself.

"There will be a hygiene suite where he can go and be changed with dignity, he'll be able to be a lot more independent than he is."

The house has been a building site for more than a year

But as work began the couple encountered their first problem as the pandemic hit, putting extra pressure on builders and the supply of building materials.

The family were forced to move next door more than a year ago and their house became unlivable.

They found a new contractor, and while things seemed to be looking up, another problem was discovered with the sewage drain stopping work again.

The site was then battered by storms causing flooding and more damage.

The delays and complications have added about another £30,000 to their final costs - of which the family have been able to raise half.

They are now determined to raise the last £15,000 to complete the work, and have a fundraising page that has huge support from the local community.