A frightened mum of two demanded action on her mould and damp-ridden flat, after her four-year-old daughter was rushed to hospital twice.
The mum has begged Birmingham City Council to move her family out of their flat and medical professionals have warned that the living conditions are making her children’s health worse.
Alongside her daughter’s asthma, her son’s eczema is so bad he needs a special lotion applied 20 times a day, BirminghamLive reported.
But the family have been told their seventh-floor tower block flat is all the council has to offer and they have twice had temporary repairs which haven’t dealt with the problems.
The mum moved to Birmingham to flee domestic abuse, and most recently had work done last month… but the mould returned within days.
Then, in light of the tragic death of little Awaab Ishak, who died because of mould and damp in his own home an inquest ruled, the mum’s terrified the same could happen to her own son.
She said: “My son is of similar age, and our flat is in a very similar condition. I called the council and said ‘that could be us’.”
The mum added: “The council advised me to keep all the windows open all the time but that is really hard when it is so cold and we have so little money.
“We are very high up and my son’s behaviour issues mean it’s a worry – he has tried to climb out before. Everyone backs our case. The temporary repairs are pointless. But the council say there is nowhere else.”
Two medics have written letters warning that the apartment is affecting the children’s health, and during a trip away – when they visited family – the children’s symptoms eased immediately.
“They were better within days, it was amazing,” said the mum.
Repair workers spent several days carrying out repairs and painting the flat in October. But soon after they left ,the damp patches and black spots returned.
“The same happened before,” the mum said, “the walls are damp underneath, so putting new wallpaper and paint does nothing. The wet comes back through. I keep cleaning but it just keeps appearing.”
She added: “I want the council to listen to the medical experts, if not me.” In letters, a paediatric clinical nurse specialist, dermatology expert and her children’s nursery manager all urged action.
In the most recent letter of support, dated October, a clinical nurse specialist working with a consultant treating the boy’s chronic atopic eczema, described the flat: “All the rooms are damp … they all share a double bed … there is mould on the walls and ‘silverfish’ in all the rooms including the nappy cupboard”.
There is “nowhere safe for the children to play or get fresh air.”
She added: “I would be grateful if someone could re-look at the housing situation …as all of these combined things are not helping in getting the eczema under control or improving his quality of life.”
A second letter from a dermatology nurse specialist, dated August 2021, illustrates how long the problem has lasted. The family GP has also raised concerns.
Local MP Preet Kaur Gill recently wrote to council chief executive Deborah Cadman pushing for urgent action on the council’s poorly insulated housing stock.
She said that complaints about ‘recurring damp’ were one of the largest causes of calls for help from her constituents.
BirminghamLive approached Birmingham City Council about this case, and others like it, and asked for the opportunity to interview senior housing officers or councillors. Unfortunately it said there was nobody available. The council has issued a general statement on the issue of mould and damp and said it “inspects properties for mould as part of its focus on carrying out increased numbers of home visits and is actively working with our tenants to prevent it.”
This included “producing a housing toolkit which includes advice on treating mould and a leaflet which we will be distributing to all vulnerable tenants.”
The HelpinBrum website has information for tenants worried about bills.