Lack of space in family home impacts wellbeing of disabled children

3 mins read

Monday 4 October 2021

Dean and Penny Leach from Yorkshire have four children and are desperate for more space in their home.

Three of their children are on the autistic spectrum. Rosie, aged 7, is severely autistic, non verbal and has an Education Health and Care Plan for support in school. She uses a special wheelchair when they are out as she doesn’t have any sense of danger.

Rosie shares a bedroom with her parents. She does not sleep well and is often up through the night and she desperately needs her own quiet space. An occupational therapist has assessed the family as needing an extra bedroom, because Rosie’s brothers cannot share due to their condition and Rosie cannot share with her sister. However, there are no suitable properties available.

Left in limbo

East Riding of Yorkshire local authority has drawn up plans for an extension and one of the options would work for the family. But since the plans were drawn up a year ago, there has been no further progress and the family feels it has been left in limbo

Dad Dean said: “We are having to fight at every single stage which is frankly exhausting. The situation is having a massive knock on effect on every aspect of our lives. Rosie desperately needs her own space for her wellbeing, it would massively reduce her anxiety, which can affect her behaviour.

“It’s been over a year now and there is still no answer from the local authority about what the next stage is. All this time we’ve been left waiting, wondering, chasing up and living in a house that is unsuitable for us. We felt we had no option but to issue a complaint to the local government ombudsman.”

Unsuitable homes

Dean and Penny got in touch with Contact following the launch of our Counting the Costs housing survey, which found that many families with disabled children live in unsuitable, crowded or unsafe homes.

Contact is concerned that children with non physical disabilities are not being seen as a priority for housing due to lack of medical need, but their need for space and quiet is often essential to their health and wellbeing.

Take action by joining our #CountingTheCosts campaign. Together, we can make a change.

Need advice on housing?

We have information on our website on:

You can also find advice from housing charity Shelter in:

Or if you live in Northern Ireland, from Housing Advice for Northern Ireland.