Market Drayton family's plea for help over boys' health in mould-ridden flat

A three-year-old boy who lives in a Shropshire flat plagued with damp has had a nursery attendance rate of just 20 per cent over the past month because he is constantly ill.

Mould in the property
Mould in the property

His attendance rate had been 33 per cent over the last year, but plummeted in the last month due to a series of medical issues, including tonsillitis, a swollen face and skin peeling off his fingers.

The boy, whose family wish to remain anonymous, lives with his two-year-old brother and his mother in a flat on Raven Court, Market Drayton, which is managed by Connexus.

His younger brother is also regularly ill and was so poorly last week with coughing and sickness that he has become withdrawn and distant.

Mould in the property

The children's mother also suffers from a serious health condition called Chiari malformation, which is an abnormality at the base of her skull which affects her brain, causing brain tissue to extend into the spinal canal.

As a result of the condition, she is affected by severe headaches and problems with her balance, which are exacerbated by the colds she has suffered in the flat.

She said: "The mould has made by head pain a lot worse. I've only ever had the head pain in this flat; I was never really ill before but I've been ill more times in this flat than I have had in my entire life."

Mould in the property

Talking about the effect of the property on her sons, she added: "Me and my kids have suffered, my children are always sick. I'm surprised doctors haven't called social services, they spend so much of their time ill.

"We've had so many illnesses in this flat. The family who lived here before us moved out because their daughter was always poorly.

On top of the physical complaints, the 23-year-old mum is running herself ragged trying to sort out the situation with the housing association, Connexus, and with Shropshire Council to try to find another property.

"I don't think they're bothered," she said, "I feel like I'm being targeted. They talk down to me. It feels like they're saying what I can and can't do around my kids.

"I've told them it's not just mould or damp, there's something else in the flat which is making my kids ill."

Mould in the property

She also feels like "a prisoner in my own home", saying she has been threatened by the tenant in the flat below hers, and by a tenant in the block of flats opposite.

The ill health of the two boys and their mum has sparked serious concern among family members, after a damning court case that found two-year-old Awaab Ishak from Rochdale had died from a respiratory condition caused by mould in the flat he lived in with his parents.

Fearing that history could repeat itself, the Market Drayton family are desperate for help. The mould in their flat is persistent, growing back on windows after it has been cleaned away, and even grows on the fridge door.

As well as affecting the living room, bathroom, and kitchen, it also grows in the boys' bedroom. The mother of the two boys has asked to be moved to another property, and even has letters from their GP declaring that the flat is unsuitable for her children.

One doctor's note - sent before the older boy turned three - reads: "Unfortunately the flat has mould in most rooms. I gather her younger son has already been in hospital with what was thought to be a urine infection, but does not need any further investigations currently.

"However, this situation is not ideal for bringing up two children under the age of two years and I would be grateful if you looked into her housing situation."

Another letter addresses the issue of the younger son, who had previously suffered from sepsis, saying: "He remains susceptible to further episodes of sepsis. His mother is quite rightly concerned that the apartment is damp and mouldy.

"In my opinion, such an environment is not suitable for a child of his age who is susceptible to further attacks of sepsis."

The 23-year-old's mother has been helping her with her dealings with the council and housing association, and said: "They've made out it's my daughter's fault, they said you haven't helped yourself.

"The council kept promising her a property and now they haven't given her anything. They said they'd put everything on hold to make her the priority, but she's still in the same situation."

Connexus is due to send workers to treat the mould in the house and repaint the walls, sending the family to another property for five days and leaving their possessions in the house.

Industrial-strength extractor fans have also been placed in the property, but they have subsequently made the flat "freezing", making things far worse for the family.

"I'm having to wrap the kids up even with the heating on. That's not normal," the mum said.

Richard Woolley, chief executive at Connexus said: “We are deeply aware of the anxiety and concern that issues like the one reported cause and take all reports of mould and condensation in our homes extremely seriously.

“We are in touch with the family and trying to agree a convenient time for our inspection team to visit. Contractors are in place and ready to urgently complete any required repair and redecoration work. While this happens, we will be offering alternative accommodation nearby.

“Our housing team has been providing support and will continue to offer help following completion of the work.”

Jane Trethewey, assistant director of homes and communities at Shropshire Council, said: "We are sorry to hear about the individual’s circumstances and understand that the person is currently living in accommodation owned and managed by the housing association Connexus.

"Whilst we cannot disclose information about those who have applied for a new property due to confidentiality, those who apply for accommodation through the Homepoint Register, will have their application reviewed in line with our housing allocation policy.

"However, we have advised the individual to contact their landlord and that they should use their complaints process if they are not happy with any response. If they feel that the landlord is still not responding they can contact our Environmental Health team and the council will intervene on their behalf."

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