Michelle's battle for her home

SHE is trying to rebuild her life after being left paralysed in a freak gun accident, but today Michelle Coulson faces a new battle and faces eviction from her home.

SHE is trying to rebuild her life after being left paralysed in a freak gun accident, but today Michelle Coulson faces a new battle and faces eviction from her home.

Miss Coulson of Felixstowe hit the headlines four years ago when she was injured in a shooting accident, but is now locked in a battle with Suffolk Coastal District Council to keep her home following a row over benefit payments.

The 23-year-old is entitled to housing benefit but after taking on a part time job in the payroll department of Ipswich Borough Council in August she was told her benefits would be reduced.

She claims she filled in the form she was given and sent it back but the council say they never received them and cut her payments altogether.

Now she says her housing association is threatening to evict her from her specially adapted house unless the missing payments - dating back to August - are met.

The district council says it registers the letters it receives and sends back receipts but Miss Coulson said she was not told to expect a receipt.

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She said: “The council is saying they haven't received a form but the long and short of it for me is that I know I sent the form back but now I'm threatened with eviction. It's a huge worry and upset.

“The council said an appeal has been rejected.

“I've done everything right, I'm up to date with my payments, and I just wish the council could just sort it out.

“I'm being asked for all sorts of information now, like my tax credit details, and I know I've given it to them already.”

Miss Coulson said she does believe things can eventually be resolved but is also having to deal with the housing association.

She said: “Am I expected to send everything by special delivery? That costs money and I'm on low income as I only do 16-and-a-half hours a week.”

A spokesman for Suffolk Coastal District Council said: “If someone supplies us with documentary evidence we log it and send a receipt back to the individual.

“If we make a decision regarding benefits, to increase, reduce or suspend them, a letter is sent to them.

“We have had a meeting with Michelle and her mother where we advised then of the avenues they can take to try and sort out the situation, including formally submitting a complaint.”

n. Are you in Michelle's situation? Write to Your Letters, Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, IP4 1AN or email eveningstarletters@eveningstar.co.uk

NUMBER 11 panel

MICHELLE'S FIGHT

MICHELLE Coulson's life changed forever on September 12 2002.

Her ex-boyfriend Alexander Powell dropped a gun, causing it to fire into her neck. The bullet severed Miss Coulson's spinal cord and left her with limited use of her shoulders, arms and fingers and no movement in her legs.

She spent 13 days in the intensive care unit at Ipswich Hospital before being transferred to the specialist spinal unit at the Royal National Orthopaedic Hospital, Stanmore, in Middlesex. Her first six weeks there were spent wearing a 'halo' - a head frame bolted to the scalp. She spent more than nine months in total in hospital and later had an operation on the tendons in her left arm to enable her to move her fingers.

Michelle, a former Copleston High School and Suffolk College pupil, was a lifeguard at Ipswich's Crown Pools before the shooting and was planning a career as a paramedic.

She moved out of her family home because she needed a specially-adapted property and a 24-hour carer.

An appeal was set up for Miss Coulson by the Evening Star and generous readers dug deep to buy a shed for her home. The shed is used to store her equipment, notably a large hoist used in the event of her falling from her wheelchair.

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