A man with severe mobility problems and heart disease is pleading with his local authority to rehouse him before his deteriorating health results in his death.
62-year-old Soner Sabriler contacted T-VINE Magazine to say he was in hospital again after suffering another heart attack – his six in as many months – and fears he will die before the council find him suitable accommodation:
“If they [Haringey Council] don’t sort out my housing soon, they will be carrying me out in a coffin. I don’t know how much more my body can take. Please don’t let me die here,” Mr Sabriler told T-VINE’s editor Ipek Özerim.
Mr Sabriler was rushed to North Middlesex Hospital last Monday, 23 April, after experiencing breathing difficulties and chest pains. It has become an all too familiar situation for him since last October, with doctors advising Mr Sabriler the heart attacks are brought on by a lack of exercise and stress.
The father of one is currently a virtual prisoner in a privately-owned first floor flat in Harringay, North London. His local council is unable to make essential mobility adaptations to the building, as Mr Sabriler is a private tenant and does not own his home.
He has been on Haringey Council’s waiting list for four years, but due to an acute shortage of social housing in the borough Mr Sabriler and family are forced to remain in their existing two-bedroom home, where his wife and 16-year-old daughter are forced to share a bed.
Without mobility aids like a chair lift, Mr Sabriler must attempt to navigate two steep flights of stairs from his flat to the building’s front door, which he cannot do without assistance. As a result, he is often trapped indoors for days at a time.
Originally from North Cyprus, Mr Sabriler used to drive for a living but chronic back problems, initially caused by a slipped disc, put a stop to his work. Between 2004 and 2015, he has endured a series of major operations on his spine to alleviate the pain, but these have left him less mobile.
In order to keep his body infection and pain-free, he is forced to consume anti-biotics and over a dozen other prescribed medication every day, including morphine and sleeping tablets.
Soner Sabriler: “There’s been times when I’ve not be able to leave the flat for weeks”
His lack of daily exercise due to being cooped up in the small flat has led to a build-up of fat in his arteries. This and the stress of his predicament have resulted in at least six heart attacks, the last one being eight days ago.
Mr Sabriler was at his local doctor’s surgery for an appointment when he started to experiencing chest pains. Suspecting it was another heart attack, his GP Dr Gor called the ambulance. He was taken to North Middlesex Hospital, where he was kept for a week. Over the weekend, he was taken to Barts for an angioplasty and after being checked by physicians, the patient was finally allowed home late on Monday night.
Doctors have ordered him to rest and not stress, but Mr Sabriler told T-VINE his home circumstances make that difficult for him.
“My back problems mean I can barely stand up. I need two people to help me to get down the stairs and to bring my wheelchair. It’s not always possible to find neighbours to help my wife, who is now suffering from [the onset] of arthritis. There’s been times when I’ve not be able to leave the flat for weeks.
“For the past four years, I feel like a prisoner trapped in the flat. No fresh air or daily exercise, just me and four walls. The lack of activity means my arteries get clogged, and the stress of having no independence is driving me crazy. No one should have to live like this.
“We’ve told the local authorities and even my GP has written saying that my current home is ‘unsuitable’, but still we are stuck here.”
A letter by family GP Dr Gor states Mr Sabriler’s “housing is unsuitable for his needs” & urges a new assessment
Last month, the family visited local councillor Zena Brabazon, presenting her with Dr Gor’s March 2018 letter. The family GP confirms Mr Sabriler has multiple health ailments and states that “his housing is unsuitable for his needs”, which has “restricted his movements”.
Ms Brabazon has promised to act on their behalf, liaising with Homes for Haringey, which is the external management agency dealing with social housing on behalf of the council. A new housing assessment – arranged before Mr Sabriler’s latest hospital admission – is due to be scheduled soon and the family hope it will bump them up to the priority category.
The most recently available figures (for 2016-17) show that there were 15,423 local authority-owned properties in Haringey. Very few become available each year, leaving most of the 9,570 households on the council’s Housing Register unable to access social housing for years.
Mr Sabriler was previously listed as a non-urgent Category C case (the lowest band), but was informed he had been upgraded to Category B in June 2017 after an assessment at the start of last year. There are over 3,000 other households in this category, whereas those in Category A – people with the most pressing housing needs – have a waiting list of just 407 households.
Main photo © T-VINE: Haringey Cllr Zena Brabazon (left) pledges to help Soner Sabriler and his wife Zalihe, after meeting them at her local monthly surgery at the TCCA, Green Lanes, 07 Apr. 2018