Don’t force Linda out of her home

Linda Graham and her brother Colin.
Linda Graham and her brother Colin.

A WOMAN with learning difficulties has been thrust into the centre of an eviction battle.

Linda Graham and her family are desperately trying to fight a housing group’s plans to uproot her from her Hadston home and re-house her into a smaller property.

The 47-year-old, who is also partially deaf and suffers from anxiety, moved into the two-bedroom bungalow on Hedgehope Crescent last year with her mother Annie, but has been living there alone since the middle of February when the 85-year-old died.

Now, Isos Housing wants to move Linda from the property, saying it is ‘larger than she needs’ and has suggested alternative locations, which her family says are either out of the village or unsuitable.

Those fighting for Linda also insist that she doesn’t want to move, she feels safe in her home and is surrounded by caring neighbours and that Isos is being ‘unreasonable’.

They also claim that the housing group had said that Linda could stay at the property if anything happened to her mother and have accused Isos of going back on its word.

Isos has refuted this though and has also said while it regrets the disruption this will cause, it has an obligation to those in housing need around the area and that everything has been done to approach the matter in a caring fashion.

But devastated Linda said: “I am happy here. I have got good neighbours who help me and they invited me round for the Royal Wedding. I know the area because I have lived here for a long time. I don’t want to move. I am getting stressed out. My hands shake a lot but this is making it worse.”

Linda has a long affinity with the area. She was born in Chevington Drift and moved to Hadston about 30 years ago. She has also tried living away from the village, in areas such as Cramlington and Blyth, but she suffered at the hands of nuisance neighbours and was left feeling vulnerable and frightened.

While living away, Linda regularly visited Hadston to see her mum, who lived in the property herself for more than a decade – having moved from across the street – and it was thought that it would be best for Linda to move back to the family home.

She completed the move in October and has since felt safe in her home and happy in a community which has known her for years.

But now her world could be turned upside down.

Her 49-year-old brother Colin, who lives with wife Karen in nearby Widdrington, said: “She feels safe here and that is the biggest issue. She is settled here and Linda is well-known in the community.

“There was a time when we thought Linda would be best off living her own life to a certain extent rather than living with mum and we agreed for her to try places in Blyth and Cramlington, but for some reason or another it hasn’t worked and it has been inappropriate.

“Linda wanted to come back and look after mum. She was still in Blyth at the time so we got Linda’s social worker to ring Isos and inquire if she could come home and live with my mum and if it would be okay to continue living there if anything happened to my mum. They said there wouldn’t be a problem as long as her name was on the address of the property.

“Now they want to uproot her and put her in a community that she doesn’t know. They are looking for suitable properties and they are looking at Ponteland, Ellington and Widdrington. There is one place in Hadston but that is unsuitable. Her anxiety levels have gone through the roof.

“I think they are being unreasonable. All she wants is to live her life peacefully.”

The family has said that Linda’s neighbours are also prepared to fight for her while parish councillors have also thrown their support behind her battle.

Coun Scott Dickinson, chairman of East Chevington Parish Council, described the situation as ‘deeply concerning’ and said: “The facts are this resident has additional needs and feels safe and happy in the house she is currently living in, surrounded by the people who she knows. Moving her would be the wrong move and one that would be strongly opposed by my council.”

County Coun Glen Sanderson, ward member for Chevington with Longhorsley, said that his sole and key interest was the welfare of his constituents.

“It is very important to make sure that the family is listened to carefully by the housing providers and I hope very much that a suitable outcome can be reached that will put Linda’s wishes at the top of everyone’s list,” he said.

Katherine Glen, tenancy services manager for Isos, said: “We are very much aware of the sensitive nature of this case, and have done everything we can to approach the matter in a caring fashion.

“While we regret the disruption which moving house may cause to Miss Graham, this property is larger than she needs, and we have an obligation to all those in housing need around the area.

“Miss Graham moved into her mother’s home last October, with our agreement, but the property remained solely in her mother’s name and no guarantees were given on what would happen to the tenancy subsequently.

“We have met Miss Graham, her family, and her care manager from Northumberland Care Trust, to explain the situation and suggest alternative locations where Miss Graham could be housed.

“There is no deadline for this process to be completed, and we will be guided by Miss Graham and her family as to where would be appropriate for her to live.

“We took the decision to handle Miss Graham’s case outside the normal allocation process, to ensure her particular circumstances are catered for appropriately.

“We are confident we have done everything possible to deal with Miss Graham’s needs appropriately, and that the situation can be resolved to everyone’s satisfaction.”