24 MAY 2017
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Executive sorry for delay

18 May 2017

The Housing Executive has apologised to the family of a little Newry boy who is registered as legally blind for a year-long delay in redeveloping their front garden to suit his needs and ensure his safety.

Daniel Clark has a series of medical conditions that affect his sight, including Oculoctaneous Albinism (OCA/Albino), Nystagmus (involuntary eye movement that gradually limits vision) and Photophobia (light sensitivity).

The five-year-old pupil from Derrybeg also has difficulties with his balance and development.

Since June last year, his parents David and Pauline have been asking the Housing Executive to convert their front garden to a single, flat-leveled surface due to Daniel’s condition and fears for his safety.

Due to his severe sight disability, the St Patrick’s PS pupil struggles to identify the outline of the wall in the grassed area and steps leading into the garden.

Daniel’s parents said they provided documentation to the Housing Executive from the Southern Health Trust's Sensory Disability Team in Armagh, which recommended that Daniel required a level service to ensure his safety.

Earlier this month he was rushed to Daisy Hill Hospital after falling over the wall and onto the lower footpath – which his mum and dad say has been a regular occurrence.

However, Mr Clark said the family has been waiting almost a year for work on the front garden to be carried out despite presenting the Housing Executive with the required medical documentation outlining his son’s medical condition and specialist needs.

Accusing the Executive of showing unwillingness to help, Mr Clark said: “The Executive told us last year that they could not convert the garden then due to lack of funds, but that it would be considered in April 2017 at the start of the new NIHE financial year.

“But when we approached them again last month, we were told they needed OT reports on Daniel’s conditions. When we asked the Sensory Disability Team in Armagh for the OT reports, they were told that they were not required, and since then it has been a case of going back and forward.”

He added: “The garden is simply not suitable for Daniel. When at home, the front garden is the only place he can go outside to play because it’s the only place he can go where we can keep an eye on him. 

“He’s had a number of falls - the most recent one he ended up in hospital - but we’re genuinely concerned that a fall from that height can lead to a serious head injury.

“We just feel they don’t want to do anything for us. It’s a disgrace. We just want our son to have a safe environment to play in.”

A Housing Executive spokesperson told the Reporter that it hopes to have the work on the front garden carried out as soon as possible.

He said: “The Housing Executive would like to apologise to the Clark family for any distress that may have been caused to them and their young son.

“We have arranged for a maintenance officer to call out this week to survey the garden and discuss the work required with the family. Our contractor will be asked to complete the work as soon as possible.”

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