Sheffield nan with ME sent ‘threatening’ council letter after shielding for months
A Sheffield woman who has been shielding for the last three months was shocked to receive ‘threatening’ letter from the council warning legal action if her gas appliances are not checked.
Sharron Robinson, from Darnall, is registered disabled and has been shielding from the public since March because she suffers from multiple health conditions.
The shielding 58-year-old has an underactive thyroid, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, ME, fibromyalgia and bipolar disorder.
Sharron, who hasn’t seen her children and grandchildren for months due to the coronavirus, said she was concerned when she opened the letter from Sheffield City Council warning she could face legal action if she did not allow engineers to carry out a gas inspection at her property.
The letter from the council’s Repairs and Maintenance Service said that unless the recipient contacts the office “within 7 days of the date of this letter, this matter will be referred to out solicitors for legal proceedings” and could be liable for up to £500 of legal costs.
Sheffield City Council have since apologised for the letter which they say Sharron received “in error” and agreed to put her visit on hold until it is safe for shielding people to have visits inside their home.
While it is a legal requirement to have gas appliances checked, the Darnall resident explained she was assured by a council employee back in March that an inspection would be rearranged for when shielding people are allowed visitors from other households.
Sharron shared how shefelt when she opened the letter.
"Getting something like this with a mental health condition, I'm lucky”, she said.
“I've done everything they've asked me to, I haven't been out, the freedom of choice has been taken away from me and then you get this and it's like, the biggest slap in the face.
"If I was somebody that was less away then it could result in legal action and it just feels like I'm being threatened.”
People at high risk of contracting Covid-19 can meet up with up to six people they don’t live with outside but are advised to shield until August 1, 2020.
Sheffield City Council’s director of Housing and Neighbourhood Services Janet Sharpe said: “We contacted Ms Robinson yesterday afternoon with an apology for our error and an update on the current situation.
“We have confirmed that her gas service visit will be kept on hold and that we will contact her when the situation changes.
“Regular servicing of gas appliances is important for everyone’s safety and its our legal duty to write to tenants and residents about this.
“We appreciate that some of our most vulnerable tenants will be worried about letting our gas engineers into their home at this time.
“If anyone who is shielding would prefer this not to happen we will, of course, respect this.
“Anyone who has received a letter and is not shielding due to health reasons can be assured that, if they are happy for us to carry out their gas servicing, we will make sure that it is carried out safely.”