HUMAN RIGHTS INFO Human Rights in Real Life Securing adequate housing for a disabled woman and her family so they can live with dignity Balbir is 48 years old. She lives in a small council house with her two teenage sons. She suffered a major stroke, leaving her with severe physical disabilities. She is no longer able to use the stairs to reach her bedroom or bathroom, she is confined to the ground floor of her home.The local authority refused to build Balbir a downstairs bathroom and toilet. They said Balbir could strip-wash in the kitchen and use the commode in her living room, which despite being the family's main space for spending time together, had also become her bedroom. As Balbir has IBS, she was forced to rely on carers to come and empty the commode. Also, as a Muslim, she relied on her carers to bring her a bowl to perform ablution so she could pray, this made Balbir feel embarassed and distressed. Balbir and her two sons live like this for over a year. Balbir has been able to get help from a local advocacy service who were working with BIHR and had received training on human rights. Tim, an advocate from the service, visited Balbir to discuss her situation. After hearing her story he explained how her human rights may be relevant. They decided to write a letter to the local authority explaining that Balbir’s circumstances were humiliating and in danger of breaching the right to be free from degrading treatment, a right which the Human Rights Act says local authorities must not breach. As a result, the local authority decided to carry out an assessment of Balbir's needs. This recommended that an accessible downstairs bathroom with a walk-in shower should be built, and the local authority made sure this happened. Balbir now lives comfortably in her home with her sons.