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‘Olive’s accessible house’ is accomplished!

As the days get lighter and brighter, so too has life for 6-year-old Olive – now that her fantastic adaptations have been put in place at her home.

Olive’s accessible house’ project, which required £40,000 to be raised above the Disabled Facilities Grant awarded from the council, involved extending and adapting the family home – adding a side extension with an additional bedroom and specialist adapted wetroom for Olive; plus installing a through-floor lift.


The entire downstairs living space needed to be made wheelchair accessible, with ramped access created to the front of the house and level access created from the back of the house to the garden – as Olive’s parents explain:

“We had no way of getting Olive (now 6) up to her bedroom without carrying her. The size and layout of our house meant that she couldn’t get in the kitchen and if I was cooking/washing etc she would be on the floor, which was dangerous, or I would have to leave her in the living room out of sight – also unsafe. We both had bad backs every day from lifting and carrying Olive. On days when they were particularly bad we would have to rethink our plans that day to avoid lifting – which sometimes might mean not doing an activity we enjoyed like swimming, or may even affect going to work. We were unable to get assessed for a powered wheelchair for her because we couldn’t use it at home due to the size of our house.

Olive’s family set about fundraising, with family and friends getting involved with events and activities, including Olive herself – who undertook a gruelling 2 km run using her Frame Runner. Not only did intrepid Olive exceed her fundraising expectations with over £1,200 raised along the way, but she also doubled her initial intended distance of 1km … and even had time for a well-earned stop for ice cream en route!

Companies and charitable organisations also generously joined the fundraising efforts – such as Independence at Home who kindly funded towards sliding pocket doors and accessible sinks for Olive’s use, aiding her mobility in and around the home; together with sizeable discounts offered from a kitchen supplier, enabling accessibility for Olive to the kitchen.

The weather was fortunately on their side too … bringing bright sunshine when a huge hole was knocked in the house as works got underway; and the garage and existing walls at the back of the house demolished, with new foundations installed in their place for the 2-storey extension.

Now that the works have all been finalised, the adaptations put in place have made a multitude of differences, as Olive’s parents explain:

“Olive can access every part of the house independently, she has autonomy.”

Olive's parents ‘Olive’s accessible house’

“We have a lift to get her upstairs, hoists in the living room and her bedroom – into the adjoining wetroom. Not only can she come into the kitchen, she can access the sink to wash her hands, and she has pull out worktops so she can help us cook and make cakes and she loves sitting at the worktop to eat breakfast. The open plan layout means she can see us at all times (and we can see her!) and because every part of the house has been made wheelchair accessible, she can use her power wheelchair everywhere in the house. She has since been deemed eligible for a funded power wheelchair and it’s being built ready for her.” 

“It’s been amazing – it’s no overstatement to say it’s life changing”.

Olive's parents ‘Olive’s accessible house’

"Our backs aren’t bad everyday like they were. We know she is safe wherever she is in the house, hygiene is better because she has her own bathroom and access to two sinks to wash her hands properly … she is just happier and more independent and it’s made all of our lives easier because she is not excluded from any part of family life.

Olive’s parents also give us an insight into the fundraising journey they encountered, once set up with Sullivan’s Heroes to raise funds towards their adaptations process:

“When we started looking into adaptations, we had high hopes for what we could achieve. We couldn’t afford our ‘dream adaptation’ but we drew a list up of things we couldn’t compromise on – and then still couldn’t quite afford it … so we started looking into fundraising. I felt uncomfortable at first, like we didn’t deserve to fundraise or it wasn’t a worthy cause, but speaking to Fiona at Sullivan’s Heroes made me realise that we could apply to charities – there were several who might support us – and that actually, getting the right adaptation for your child and making their home accessible isn’t something we should be afraid of asking for help with. Sure enough, friends and family came through and helped us, but had we not had the backing of Sullivan’s Heroes, I would never have thought to fundraise. We would have missed out on £20,000 towards the house – so the remodelling upstairs which required extra steel and changing the layout, that could never have happened.

Olive’s parents also highlight the value of the charity backing provided, when being supported by Sullivan’s Heroes:

The fundraising, in particular having a named charity to pass funds to, with someone else to manage and check the numbers, meant that some of our contractors went above and beyond. For example, the kitchen company gave us huge reductions by way of supporting us, because they saw the info on Sullivan’s Heroes’ website and they wanted to help out but couldn’t give a direct donation."

“Sullivan’s Heroes gave us ideas and support and kept in contact throughout. Their support made it feel valid, instead of just us asking for money to make our house bigger! I think I had a chip on my shoulder like we should just pay for it, but we couldn’t afford to and Sullivan’s Heroes made us feel like it was ok to ask for financial help. And friends and family were happy to give to a named charity, where they knew we would directly benefit – rather than giving us money, or donating to something we would never gain from."

We’re delighted at Sullivan’s Heroes to see the finished product of the family’s fundraising achievements, and to hear of these differences that have been brought about as a result.

We conclude with these kind words from Olive’s parents – which epitomise the life-changing elements that such adaptations enable for disabled children, such as Olive:

“We can’t thank Fiona and the charity stakeholders enough. We only reached half our target but that was enough to get us what we needed."

"It’s been life changing. Whenever I hear Connie moaning about Olive (her disabled sister) being in her room, I think how ‘normal’ that is – and how it wouldn’t be happening if we hadn’t gone for our dream of creating a fully adapted house for Olive." 

Olive's parents ‘Olive’s accessible house’

"We hope to do more in future – bit by bit, self-funded, to make sure the house changes with Olive and her needs. Things like heating controls, light controls, accessible cooking hob and things she may be able to use in future – the house is built with the ability to add these when she needs them, and that’s because we had the extra to make that possible. We can’t thank you enough. It was such a stressful time for us, but Sullivan’s Heroes (Fiona!) was always a calm and steady companion along the way.

View the fundraising page for ‘Olive’s accessible house’ here.

“Getting the right adaptation for your child and making their home accessible isn’t something we should be afraid of asking for help with.”

Olive's parents ‘Olive’s accessible house’