Edinburgh man with disability who was forced to drag himself down stairs feels 'forced' to move out

After being stuck at home for twelve days he is terrified it will happen again.
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A disabled man forced to drag himself down multiple flights of stairs due to a broken lift said he feels forced to move out of his home.

Chris Purnell pulled himself and his wheelchair downstairs from his fourth floor Granton flat after being isolated at home for more than a week because he didn’t want to miss his wedding day. The 37-year-old, who is getting married on Sunday this weekend, first reported the faulty lift to the factoring company on Thursday, September 7.

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After it still hadn’t been repaired a week later, the NHS worker pulled himself down the stairs to practice getting out of the house. After the Evening News reported his plight, the factoring company arranged for an alternative supplier and found the part required for the repairs. The lift was fixed on Friday evening, but by Saturday morning it had broken down again. Engineers came out on Tuesday and it’s now back in operation - twelve days after it was reported.

Chris and his fiance SarahChris and his fiance Sarah
Chris and his fiance Sarah

He said: “When the lift was finally fixed on Friday evening it was late and I was exhausted by then. I went to bed feeling relieved. When I woke up I found my fiance in floods of tears. It hit us both that this could drag on and on.

"There is no way I can stay here now. I’m terrified of being stuck in the flat again. Or I could be out and not be able to get back upstairs to my flat. I really couldn’t drag myself up four floors. I wouldn’t be able to afford alternative accommodation. My friends and family have offered to put me up if needed but they all live upstairs too. What’s made it all worse is that the factoring company haven’t acknowledged the failures to deal with this swiftly."

Mr Purnell said he feels he now has no choice but to move out because he is scared he could end up trapped at home again, after being told the company wouldn’t pay for an evacuation chair. He feels the stress it has caused has ruined the build up to his big day.

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"They could have resolved this sooner,” he said. “They stressed how a lift is machinery and subject to failure, which I understand. But they have told me they wouldn’t pay for an evacuation chair. Why can’t they do that? As part of my monthly fees I am helping to pay for a gym I can’t use and a car park when I don’t have a car.

"When it comes to reasonable adjustments the onus should be on them to find the solutions. They said they understood it was ‘an inconvenience’. It has been much more than that. I have been isolated in my home for more than a week. I have been anxious, depressed and struggling to sleep. It has robbed me of any joy and anticipation that I should be able to experience in the build up to my wedding this weekend. The least they can do is acknowledge that they should have done more to resolve this faster.”

A spokesperson from James Gibb said: “We sympathise greatly with Mr. Purnell and the extremely challenging situation that he has been in. From the moment we learned that the lift was broken, fixing it has been our utmost priority and our team did everything they could to expedite a solution. We are sorry that it has taken this length of time to resolve.”

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