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Experience

A great view

As told to Jonathan Donovan

It started in 1999 and I was in a wheelchair by 2002, compression on the spinal cord, C5, C6, C7 in my neck. That's the easy bit to handle.

A great view © Jonathan Donovan A great view © Jonathan Donovan

It's the internal problems it causes because I've got tubes coming out of me. Because of a damaged spinal cord, I can no longer pee.

I had a period of depression, at the beginning, for about the first three years. And the depression was caused through , why can't I get that jar from up there? Or there's something on the floor and I can't pick it up. The bus that would go once a week had a person on it already who was in a wheelchair. The little things used to annoy me the most.

I was dependent on everybody, but I couldn't live a happy existence if I wasn't independent.

This flat was built with the disabled in mind.

The wheelchair goes from the bathroom sink, to the kitchen sink and then when I'm not in my wheelchair I transfer to my comfortable chair.

Living here is very pleasant as it's very quiet. On a normal day when the mist isn't around I have a great view to the Shard and if I look the other direction I have a great view to the Post Office tower.

And the reason why I like this flat is 'cause it's very light. It's somewhere where you can invite people in. It's a nice environment. It's home.

I have a simple life. I enjoy what I do. I enjoy what I've got.

The most important thing about being here is that the church on the corner has a soup kitchen which I help in. And in my mind, that is me giving back to the less fortunate than myself.

Because you may be rock bottom. You may think there's nobody in the world that's got something worse than you. The fact is, you go in the hospital and you see all these people around you who are worse than yourself.

And I say, 'Thank you. Thank you for giving me this flat.' I go to the soup kitchen and they say, 'Thank you for the soup,' because that little bowl of soup is as important to them as my flat is to me.


This photograph and interview is part of a series called No Place Like Home by Jonathan Donovan. It is part of the Museum's Documenting Homes collection.

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