Footpath puts brakes on residents

Natalie Hill loves her life at Holmdene Enliven care home in Balclutha.

There is just one frustration. The footpath outside the home is full of cracks, bumps, and uneven ridges that make it unsafe for Natalie to head out the front door, restricting her independence.

Natalie was immobile for many years; the team at Holmdene worked with Natalie for some time to get a wheelchair that she could operate, so she could be mobile again.

“The idea of the electric wheelchair was to give me some independence. I don’t have this yet, because it’s not safe for me to travel down the path just outside our front door.”

Natalie would prefer to be buzzing along the Elizabeth Street footpath in her electric wheelchair. She wants to be able to make her way into town, or to a nearby park, independently and safely.

Other Holmdene residents, some with wheelchairs, others with walkers, and even those who walk unaided, are very nervous about going beyond the front step without someone else there. Most don’t venture outside because of the state of the footpaths.

Natalie is working with Holmdene staff to make sure the Clutha District Council is aware of the challenge that residents face due to the state of the footpath.

There has been some work done to improve the footpaths in the town centre, though residents can’t even get to those.

In March, Natalie started a petition asking the Council to commit to sorting out the Elizabeth Street footpaths.

Over 120 signatures were added to the petition in just two weeks, and the petition was presented to Clutha District Mayor, Bryan Cadogan, in April. Natalie and the team at Holmdene are hopeful that plans will be made to upgrade the footpath soon.

Well done, Natalie, for your initiative and drive to make the footpaths safer for everyone.