Belfast Telegraph

Children sick due to mould say mothers

by Bob Malcolm

Two east Belfast mothers have separately blamed a local housing association for their children’s ill-health this week.

Jennifer Giles, mother of Daniel (9) and Robert (5), who lives in London Street, and Lyndsey Haddock, mother of Reece (14 weeks) and Brooklyn (3), who lives in Donard Street, have both complained of being badly treated by the Helm Housing Association.

Jennifer Giles’ house has mould in every room but two, and mould has even been growing on her furniture.

She said: “My sons both suffer from respiratory problems. Daniel is on two inhalers every morning and is always coughing.”

“They’re saying it’s condensation but condensation needs a heat source, and there is no mould in the bathroom where you would expect it if it was condensation.”

Lyndsey Haddock said the house she moved into had apparently had its kitchen renovated before her arrival, but when she arrived she saw no such kitchen.

She added: “I’m here three years in September. When I moved in my kitchen was a mess, so I painted it myself — and basically, they won’t do anything about it.

“It just seems to be one thing after another in this house.

“I’ve had to take my 14-week-old son to hospital six times so far because of the mould and the respiratory problems it caused.

“My wee boy Brooklyn has had to use an oxygen machine in hospital too.”

She said: “They don’t seem to care and don’t want to do anything about the problem.”

Helm Housing confirmed that in respect of London Street, it received an Environmental Health report on January 25, 2011, which showed “evidence of condensation”. A spokesperson said it had installed a damp extractor and would be carrying out a fungicidal wash of the walls and window frames.

“In conjunction with appropriate heat and ventilation, we believe that these steps will eradicate the mould issue in this property.”

But Ms Giles disputes that the problems are caused by condensation, and says her house is damp.

She added: “The room in the house you would expect to have condensation is the bathroom, yet there is no mould there.”

She said she wanted transferred due to the state of the house.

In relation to Donard Street, Helm Housing confirms that Ms Haddock reported the mould problem in February 2010, and that a fungicidal wash had been used to remove the mould.

Helm Housing said: “We have raised the matter with the contractor and instructed that a revisit is undertaken as soon as possible.

“We also completed an inspection of the property on April 7 and identified 12 required repairs. A number of these have already been completed and the remaining repairs are due to be finalised by May 11, 2011.”

UUP candidate Michael Copeland said: “I think this is symptomatic of massive under-investment.

“The conditions in these houses are nothing short of scandalous.

“If Jennifer or Lyndsey owned these houses they could be accused of neglect for permitting their children to grow up in such unhealthy circumstances.”

He added: “In the last five years £1.3bn has been poured into the coffers of non–housing executive landlords, surely we can expect properties of a higher standard than this.”

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