THE parents of a severely disabled child today pleaded to housing chiefs to improve their home.
Sophie Louise Steele suffered a subdural haematoma when she was born at Sunderland Royal Hospital in December 2007.
The four-year-old is unable to speak, walk or crawl and communicates with her parents through a form of sign language.
Because of this Sophie, who goes to the Early Days Nursery at Castletown Primary School, also weighs much more than a girl her age would be expected to.
Parents Andrew Steele and Donna Tate, say a number of features to their home in Washington Road, Hylton Castle, are needed to make life easier for them, Sophie and her brother Ayden, 18 months.
But they claim they have been refused the improvements by housing provider Gentoo.
Andrew, who recently quit his job as a car salesman to care for Sophie, said today the family “needs help now”.
“It’s shocking that we have had no help,” added the 39-year-old.
“We need a stairlift, a downstairs toilet and a ramp out the back to be able to get her to the car.
“Sophie’s quality of life, and ours, would be much, much better because she would be able to get her independence.”
“We just want help for Sophie. We haven’t had any. Nobody would want to live like this.”
Andrew and Donna say each day is a struggle caring for her in an unsuitable home.
Donna, 32, said: “We are in limbo at the minute over this.
“She is 6st and our backs are always in pain because we have to carry her.
“We’ve been offered the chance to move to another house south of the river, but why should we?
“We have fantastic neighbours and family here.”
Ian Porter, managing director of Gentoo Sunderland, said the organisation had received an occupational therapist report from Sunderland City Council into the family’s situation.
“The report indicated that certain alterations and adaptations could be made to the family’s current home to suit their daughter Sophie’s needs.
“However, there are other issues relating to the property that could not be modified to meet the long-term housing requirements of Sophie and her family.
“In this circumstance, it was decided that the better option was to offer the family a priority move to a more suitable property.
“We will continue to find more appropriate housing in the family’s preferred areas of choice, whether this is already adapted or suitable for future adaptations.”