New CEO of Rochdale Boroughwide Housing promises to ‘prioritise safety' following Awaab Ishak death

Awaab died following prolonged exposure to mould in the housing association flat he was living in.

The new boss of a housing authority responsible for a property where a two-year-old boy died after prolonged exposure to mould has promised to prioritise the safety of tenants.

Awaab Ishak died in December 2020 from a respiratory condition caused by mould in the one-bedroom flat where he lived with his parents in Rochdale.

Following an inquest into the two-year-old's death, the then-Chief Executive of Rochdale Boroughwide Housing (RBH) Gareth Swarbrick refused to resign, but was sacked by the board just days later.

Housing Secretary Michael Gove also said he had “no confidence” in the leadership of the organisation after an “unsatisfactory” meeting.

Now the authority has announced a new, interim CEO to lead the organisation and ensure "we put in place the changes we need to make".

Former nurse Yvonne Arrowsmith has worked in the social housing sector for the past 30 years, as a Director of Supported Housing, Group Operations Director, and Chief Executive.

In a statement, RBH said: "Yvonne has a track record of joining organisations as an interim Chief Executive and helping them to improve and succeed - we are really pleased to be able to bring in someone with her experience and skills to lead RBH."

Yvonne said: "This is a difficult time to be joining RBH, following the tragic death of Awaab Ishak.

"His death and the coroner’s verdict into it have rightly shocked the social housing sector. I strongly believe that everyone has the right to live in a home that is safe and secure.

"So, although a difficult time, I am looking forward to working with the Board, Representative Body and employees to prioritise the safety and security of people living in our homes, to make sure that action is taken where it is needed, and to begin the process of earning the trust and confidence of our residents."

Awaab’s parents Faisal Abdullah and Aisha Amin have called for an “Awaab’s law” to improve the experiences of those living with mould and damp in their properties.

Ms Arrowsmith will take up her role on 12 December.

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