A MUM today told how she has been fighting for more than two years to move her cancer-stricken son out of their overcrowded council flat where he has had to “crawl” up and down the stairs.
Donna Wilson has struggled to help Gary into their third-floor north Edinburgh home after heavy doses of chemotherapy since October 2009.
The 11-year-old – whose family of seven live in a small two-bedroom flat – suffers from acute lymphoblastic leukemia, has a separate tumour on his lung, and is often so weak he needs a wheelchair.
Ms Wilson has been battling to get on a priority housing list but said she had been told Gary is not classed as having impaired mobility.
Ms Wilson – who shares her Muirhouse home with her partner Kevin Brett, 29, and five children – has managed to get on the silver overcrowding waiting list but cannot get the gold disability priority for Gary.
She shares the main bedroom with Kevin, Gary and toddler Jay, three, while Chloe, 12, and Kayleigh, 14 share the second bedroom, and Andrew, 16, sleeps in a box room.
Like other Edinburgh families living in overcrowded social houses, they face paying more than double their £400 rent to live in private housing.
Ms Wilson said she and her neighbours have had to carry Gary up the common stair to the flat and his doctors have told her he needs his own room. The former salon worker, now a full-time mum after being made redundant, said: “I completely understand that there’s lots of houses that are crowded, and lots of families on the list, but there’s not many that’ll have a seriously ill child.”
Gary attends the Sick Kids every week while his mum administers his chemo at home every night.
The situation became worse recently when she took ill and a district nurse had to treat Gary in the same room.
She said: “The doctors say all the time how important it is he has his own space.
“If a house comes up then someone who signed up to the overcrowding list two days earlier would get the home, and Gary’s condition wouldn’t be taken into account at all.
“He’s been fighting two illnesses for so long and it’s so frustrating I can’t help him.”
Labour councillor Cammy Day, who took up Ms Wilson’s case with housing chiefs, said: “It’s clear Donna is in a dire situation and I’ve asking housing officers to do everything possible to help.”
A spokeswoman for the city council said efforts were being made to help the family.
She added: “We are sympathetic towards the family. There is a significant housing shortage in Edinburgh, especially for larger family homes. We will do everything we can to support the family in finding a larger house.”