Birmingham

Mum Charlotte had just completed her law degree with distinction and was planning to go back to work after having her second child, and Chris was going to be a stay at home Dad. Then they found out they were having twins. After the boys were born prematurely at 31 weeks – the doctors started to notice problems, initially with Alex and Dylan’s breathing. They each had periods where they stopped breathing and had to be resuscitated. Charlotte spent the majority of their first two years with one or other of the twins in hospital, while Chris was looking after their oldest son Jack and holding down a full time job to pay the mortgage.

It was during one of these later spells in hospital that doctors began to identify delays in their development and suspected more serious issues. They are still being tested for a variety of genetic disorders and illnesses. Chris and Charlotte have been told that Alex and Dylan are unlikely to ever be able to talk or look after themselves, they are hopeful that they may gain some limited mobility in their legs in time – but the odds are stacked against them.

Older son Jack is brilliant with his little brothers and can make them laugh more than anyone. He is a very caring and aware young boy – but he has had to sacrifice so many things we take for granted. At the end of the day, he longs to play football with his Dad – but it takes two people just to feed and bath the boys and they cannot be left unattended at the moment as there is nowhere safe to do so.

The family do so well in maintaining a positive attitude and they have worked very hard to keep life as normal as possible – they would never have thought to ask for help. Chris works for the charity Age UK and Charlotte has been a spokesperson for the charity Homestart – even delivering a speech to MPs in the houses of parliament. We have had 25 applications sent on their behalf and they are clearly a much loved family who are giving back to their community, despite the problems they face themselves every day.

The Build

The Bulls live in a semi-detached house which was built in 1949. They need better access into the house and out to the garden, as currently it is very difficult to get the wheelchairs in through the front door and porch and once they are in, they can’t move around the house. The boys have almost outgrown these chairs and will need to get bigger ones in the near future, so the house will need doors widening and generally more space and storage. At the moment the boys’ special highchairs sit in the living room and the rest of the family have to eat in there on their knees. By extending the kitchen and making it open plan – the boys could play on a safe mat while Charlotte is making dinner, and the family could finally eat dinner together at the dining table.

Upstairs the twins are sharing a room with two cots – which they are also about to grow out of – and there is no room for larger beds. Jack’s room has a cabin bed in – but there is no space for him to play or do his homework as he gets older. A two story rear extension with a through floor lift, would mean Alex and Dylan could have a room each, and space to store all their equipment. Keeping the boys upstairs is vital as they suffer from Sleep Apnoea and Charlotte has to monitor them through the night.

HSS provided free tool and equipment hire to the BBC's DIY SOS programme to help renovate the family's home.

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