Concerns grow for families living in mouldy Birmingham council flats following Awaab Ishak's death

Campaigners say hundreds of children in Birmingham are living in houses and flats with mould similar to that seen in Awaab Ishak's home Credit: BPM Media

Birmingham housing campaigners say hundreds of children in the city are living in houses and flats riddled with mould, similar to that seen in tragic Awaab Ishak's home.

Two-year-old Awaab died in December 2020 from a respiratory condition caused by mould in the one-bedroom housing association flat in Rochdale.

Now campaigners in Birmingham have issued a plea to landlords, saying 'it could easily happen here'. Many of the children are said to be scared of the health risks.

Birmingham Fair Housing Campaign is calling on social housing providers to act fast and learn lessons from Awaab's death.

Awaab died as a result of exposure to mould in his home, senior coroner for Rochdale, Joanne Kearsley, had ruled.

She said his death should be a “defining moment” for the UK’s housing sector.

Campaigners have highlighted examples in Birmingham including:

  • A family of six living in a single room because the children's bedroom in their two bed council flat is too damp and mouldy.

  • A young family with a child with a lung condition after being weakened by sepsis who were offered a house to live in that was full of black mould. When they rejected it, they say they were warned they would be removed from the housing list.

  • Tenants who moved out for a fortnight while repairs were carried out to their flat and found their children's persistent asthma and eczema all but cleared up while they were away. Back in the flat, the damp and mould is pushing through again and their health has worsened.

  • An elderly woman and her daughter living in a flat called the mouldiest in the country.

Speaking for the campaign group, a spokeswoman said: "We were heartbroken to hear about the tragic death of two-year-old Awaab Ishak and send our deepest condolences to his family. Awaab’s death was entirely preventable.

"Like Awaab, children’s health in Birmingham is being damaged by them having to live in mouldy and damp homes. Like Awaab’s family, families in Birmingham are being blamed by social housing providers for causing mould in their homes.

"Like Rochdale Boroughwide Housing, social housing providers in Birmingham are failing their tenants by not taking complaints about mould and damp seriously.

"Today, we call on all social housing providers in our city to learn the lessons from this tragedy so that no child in our city continues to be harmed by mould and the indifference of their housing provider.“

"For many families in Birmingham the coroner’s verdict into the causes of Awaab’s death has confirmed their worst fears about the continued and long-term damage mould is having on their children’s health."

In November 2021, the Birmingham Fair Housing Campaign launched its People Manifesto for Fair Housing amid rising despair among residents.

They called for a Charter of Rights for Renters to ensure all rented properties meet legal standards.

Their demands include asking social and private landlords to "only let out properties to a standard which they themselves would be prepared to live in."

Birmingham City Council issued a statement last week after news of Awaab's death, advising people how to prevent and treat mould and damp in their homes.

It also said: "As the largest social landlord in the country, Birmingham City Council inspects its 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.

"To assist them, we are producing a housing toolkit which includes advice on treating mould and a leaflet which we will be distributing to all vulnerable tenants."