Cricklewood mother and two children ‘trapped’ in one-bed apartment

15:03 December 29, 2021

Up to date:
15:08 December 29, 2021

One mother says she felt “trapped” in her apartment after an accident and surgery made her unable to carry her young children up and down the stairs of the block.

Ashleigh Squire says she is “desperate” to move out of the “unsuitable” one-room apartment in Handley Grove, Cricklewood, but the Child Council’s housing arm, Barnet Homes, has not offered her new housing.

The mother of two also says the apartment is too small for her family and is affected by moisture and mold, which she believes is linked to a leak in the roof of the common hallway that was not properly repaired.

Ashleigh claims she was offered temporary accommodation and told by a housing officer that if she accepted, she and her family could be accommodated anywhere in the UK, including at a hostel. She was told she would likely lose her current home because she would not be able to pay the rent. Child Homes denies these allegations, saying their investigation into Ashleigh’s application for homelessness is “ongoing.”

“I’m trapped here,” Ashleigh said. “I can not get outside the apartment because I can not carry my 15 month old and newborn downstairs.

“It’s not good because we can not go out to get fresh air, and having a small child stuck inside 24 hours a day is not good.”

The decay and water leak at the block in Handley Grove

The decay and water leak at the block in Handley Grove
– Credit: Ashleigh Squire

Ashleigh says she is still recovering from a cesarean section as well as a fall while she was pregnant, which left her struggling with ongoing health issues.

But without elevator access to her apartment on the second floor, she says she can not carry her children up and down the stairs, which recently led to her youngest missing a vaccine appointment.

Ashleigh added that for health and safety reasons, she is unable to leave her stroller in the common area downstairs, but that she cannot carry it up to her apartment.

She first contacted Child Homes in September. Since then, she says, her GP and social workers have sent evidence to the municipality’s housing department. But despite this, she claims she was told it issued the “not homeless” decision.

Damage to the ceiling.

Damage to the ceiling.
– Credit: Ashleigh Squire

As a temporary measure, Ashleigh said she traveled to stay with her mother in Luton, but her mother told Child Homes she could not stay there long due to family circumstances.

In addition to the access issues, Ashleigh says her apartment, which is managed by the housing association Network Homes, has issues with “moisture and recurrent mold”.

She said the ceiling in the hallway in December last year “collapsed and flooded every time it rained”. “They’ve partially fixed the roof,” Ashleigh said. “But they have not finished the work.” She added that a plastic cover and a pipe had been used to try to repair the roof, but water was still leaking in and tenants continued to complain about the problem.

Ashleigh Squire has complained about her situation.

Ashleigh Squire has complained about her situation.
– Credit: Ashleigh Squire

Ashleigh said she was “desperate to move” from the apartment for the sake of her mental and physical health. She added: “I no longer know what to do or who to receive help from.”

A spokesman for Network Homes said: “Our surveyor has met with the resident and has inspected the affected areas in their homes and common areas. Next, we need to set up scaffolding so we can make further investigations on the roof to determine what repairs may be needed. , so we can get these done as quickly as possible. ”

The Child Homes stated in a reply that it had not formally given Ashleigh an offer of temporary housing and “would not offer a woman with two children a room that they should share”. The statement added: “Furthermore, we would not offer any of our customers a room that would be shared with another person who is not included in their application.”

But it said the possibility of temporary accommodation had been discussed with Ashleigh but was rejected, and this happened after a medical assessment “confirmed that Mrs Squire should be considered for temporary accommodation while she recovers after her recent birth”.

Child Homes said it would be willing to offer temporary housing again, refusing to say Ashleigh would lose her housing association property if she accepted.

The city council’s housing department also added that it had taken measurements and her apartment was “not considered unsuitable for overcrowding purposes”.

It said it “did everything to conclude [Ashleigh’s] homelessness application and appreciate[s] that this is a challenging time for her given the recent arrival of her newborn baby and the issues highlighted ”.

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