House hunt misery for Stenhousemuir’s Andy

Andy Bell at his home
Andy Bell at his home
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An amputee has been virtually housebound for six months - trapped in a house that is totally unsuitable for his needs, he says.

After suffering years of poor health, Andrew Bell (26) had his left leg amputated below the knee in February and was told by a physiotherapist that his council house in Stenhousemuir was not suitable to return to.

To reach the front door, Andrew has to negotiate 12 outdoor steps - with another flight of steps to face if he wants to go into the back garden.

Despite that, Andrew was discharged home. And since then his partner, Rachel MacDonald, has spent six frustrating months pleading with Falkirk Council to rehouse them.

Rachel (24) said: “I am so disappointed and frustrated with the council.

“I just feel like nobody cares and that they are just looking at basic boxes being ticked.

“It’s like my whole life revolves around noon on a Wednesday when the new houses come up.”

Andrew and Rachel, who live with four-year-old daughter Shannon, only moved to their current house in November.

Rachel says: “On reflection, it was the wrong decision to move here, but at that time we thought that Andrew’s leg was going to recover. We had no idea what lay ahead.”

The couple now say they would accept a house with internal stairs, if it had a downstairs toilet, as Andrew could cope with internal stairs by sitting on them and ‘bumping’ himself up and down.

However, council policy means they cannot be considered for such housing and they can only apply for a two-bedroomed, ground floor house or flat.

Some houses fall into ‘starter’ categories, again leaving them unable to apply.

As they have family in Stenhousemuir, Rachel is desperate to stay in the area as she needs the support of her mother, given Andrew’s health problems.

After years of illness and pain which began when he was a child, and several operations on his leg, he was finally diagnosed with a condition called neurofibromitosis, which makes him prone to tumours.

Eventually, he asked for his leg to be taken off to put an end to the pain, but he is finding it difficult to adjust to his new prosthetic.

“I have good days and bad days,” he says.

He now has a carrier bag beside his seat, packed full of medication, from painkillers to anti-depressants, which keep him going.

Rachel says: “I asked what would happen if Andrew fell and ended up in hospital and they said we would lose our medical points as he would be in a safe environment!

“I wanted to get a house before Shannon started school, but we are still waiting. It is very frustrating.”

Elizabeth Hood, divisional housing manager, said: “We are aware of the family’s circumstances and Priority 1 has been awarded due to their need to move to a more suitable property. Ideally, they need to be housed in a property with a ground floor bedroom and shower.

“We would urge the family to bid for appropriate properties and we would hope they are successful in the near future.”