A MUM-OF-FOUR moving from Michigan to Oban with her family has been unable to find a home due to the chronic lack of housing in the area.

Marga Prouty, a specialist physiotherapist, secured a job at Lorn and Islands Hospital before deciding to move to Scotland with her husband, mum, and three of her children.

It has taken two years to find an appropriate candidate to fill the specialist neuro-rehab role, according to Argyll and Bute Social Care Partnership, the Oban Times revealed.

However, the absence of housing for key workers moving to Oban has left Marga and her family with only a few months to find a house before she starts her new job in August.

Derek Laidler, lead physiotherapist at Lorn and Islands Hospital, said Marga’s expertise is greatly needed in the area but that housing issues make recruitment difficult.

He’s put out a call for help to find Marga some accommodation.

“I’ve put out requests for help before and Oban is always brilliant in helping offer temporary accommodation but this issue of housing is a much bigger problem that needs a bigger, more permanent solution.

“We see a lot of people with MS (multiple sclerosis) and are experiencing an increased number of people having strokes in Oban.

“Marga’s skills are exactly what we need here.

“We want to provide this kind of specialised neuro-rehab service but at the moment we are not.

“If we want this service we have to find accommodation for the people who can deliver it.”

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Argyll Health and Social Care Partnership currently has four two-bed houses for staff in Oban to rent while they find their own accommodation but tenants can only stay for six months.

Laidler is calling for “something bigger” to be done to tackle the problem.

Meanwhile, Marga says that preparing to move without a house on the other side has been “like entering a black hole”.

She said: “We’ve visited Scotland twice before and fell in love with the country and its people.

“On a whim I looked up physio and jobs on the NHS Highland jobs site and saw this one in Oban.

“The visas are all in process, our house goes on the market this month and could take just weeks to sell.

“My family are spending as much time as I am looking [for houses] and they are getting nervous about it.

“They are all excited about moving to Oban but are worried where we will live, it’s emotionally like entering a black hole.”

Lesley McInnes, the CEO of West Highland Housing Association, said she was “very aware” of the problems facing Marga but that things were being done to try and combat the issue.

She added: “West Highland through the work with HOMEArgyll have a local lettings initiative to house people and this initiative gives priority to people either working in jobs or coming for jobs that are key to the local infrastructure.

“So, health, social care, police, bus drivers, CalMac are all examples of people who have benefitted.

“In addition, West Highland and Link [Group] are presently the only housing organisations that provide affordable housing for sale through the Scottish Government’s scheme.”

It is thought that the growth of short-term letting sites like AirBnB and people buying second homes in the area have exacerbated the problem.

According to a report published by the Association of Scotland’s Self-Caterers there are around 3100 second homes in Argyll and Bute, the second-highest of any council area in Scotland.