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April 10, 2024

A woman has blasted Ealing Council for what she describes as the ‘disgusting’ of her and her disabled daughter. Tracey Jones and 17-year-old Tierney were forced to remain on the top floor of her home in Northolt after a specialised lift installed in their home broke.

As the lift is the only way that Tierney, who requires a wheelchair and round-the-clock care, can get from the top floor of the house to the exit, Tracey reached out immediately to get it fixed.

She said, “The lift when out of action on the 20th of February. I contacted Ealing Council through their lift repair services, they told me they would send someone out, didn’t hear anything for 48 hours.

“So I reached out again and I was told it had been filed as a non-urgent complaint. I said ‘well it is urgent’ and they told me they would send someone out to me. A day later and still nothing.”

It took Tierney’s school reaching out to the council before workers finally came to look at the lift, informing Tracey they would need to order specialist parts. Little did she know that this saga would not conclude itself in a matter of days, it would be weeks before she and her daughter could return to their normal lives.

“It was worse than lockdown, to be honest,” Tracey said. “Realistically, for the whole month, she was confined to her bed because she had no access to the downstairs.”

Because of Tierney’s rare condition, there is a chance she can suffer from seizures which means she needs constant monitoring meaning that Tracey barely left her bedroom either.

“I had to organise getting antibiotics from my GP because my daughter wasn’t moving about, she couldn’t move about and she wasn’t doing physio which she would normally do at school and therefore she got a chest infection.

Normally Tracey would take her daughter to school where she would be in the hands of specialists but because she couldn’t get downstairs with the lift, she had to be by her side. Although Tierney’s neurological condition means she can’t verbally communicate, Tracey says she loves to be around people and enjoys singing and socialising with her classmates.

Tierney in lift
Tierney in lift. Picture: Facundo Arrizabalaga/ MyLondon

While trapped inside, she took part in online activities, which became her sole connection to the outside world. Tracey said, “Tierney is non-verbal but she actually took part in online assemblies where they have singing on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays. Just to see her little face light up, to see all of the people that she recognises but knows she isn’t able to socialise with them.

“She knows she wasn’t in school and obviously, her health was deteriorating. She can’t act out how it was affecting her but she was falling asleep most of the day.”

Tierney’s condition is life-limiting, with Tracey saying that doctors told her that her daughter wouldn’t live past five when she was born. Many people with her condition don’t live past their twenties.

Tracey feels that Ealing Council have stolen part of Tierney’s precious time, confining her to her room and seemingly showing very little understanding of the significance. “My daughter has a life-limiting condition as it is and she was just sitting in a bed doing nothing not even able to live,” she said.

Ms Jones messaged Peter Mason, leader of Ealing Council, to try and speed the process up but said she was made to feel like an annoyance. “His email said, ‘I’m inundated’, ‘I’m overwhelmed with emails’. Well, that’s not my problem, I just need some assistance.”

Tracey says she was then contacted by a housing officer who offered to put them up in a hotel. She said, “It defeats the point because I can’t get Tierney down the stairs. They really really didn’t understand the situation I was in and after that, she refused to have any more dealings with me.”

After weeks of waiting Tracey says she found the council’s attitude uncaring and flippant. “[When I contacted them] it was still, we can’t do anything until the parts come in. They were so blase about it. I told them that their service had been disgraceful and how they seemed to have no concern about the condition of a vulnerable child,” she said.

Instead of receiving compassion from the council, especially with Tierney missing out on so much school, Tracey was informed that social services had been flagged and that they might need to review her. “I said I don’t need a review I need someone to fix my lift. It’s just a joke,” she said.

The lift was finally repaired on March 17, 27 days after it first broke. Tracey says she did receive a personal apology from Peter Mason, who has also promised to send her £250 towards the heating costs she incurred during this period. She says she is yet to receive the money and has never been interested in compensation, just the repair of the lift in a timely manner.

But perhaps one of the hardest things for Tracey to swallow is the contrast in treatment she received from the council when her daughter was ‘used’ for positive PR. Only weeks before the life would malfunction Tierney had received the Jack Petchey Award for Outstanding People at Greenford Hall.

Tracey says that her recent experience has soured the memories of the council’s recognition of her daughter. “It leaves a bad taste in my mouth because here at Ealing, you know, they are happy to stand there and give these awards with the Ealing Mayor…and yet they are not so quick off the mark when something needs to be repaired which is a necessity,” she said.

She added: “I just feel totally let down, whether it’s Ealing Council right through to Peter Mason, I just think that they weren’t any use to me.”

Tierney was recently presented with a Jack Petchey Award by the Mayor of Ealing. Picture: Facundo Arrizabalaga/ MyLondon

A council spokesperson said, “We recognise that this situation was completely unacceptable and fell far short of the service that we strive to offer to residents. This is why Ms Jones received a full apology from the council and compensation towards the extra costs incurred during the time whilst the lift was broken. We are working with our contractors to try and ensure that this does not happen again.”

Ms Jones has also expressed her concern that what happened to her may have happened to others, who may not have spoken out.

Rory Bennett - Local Democracy Reporter

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