Child with cancer can't leave hospital because mould-riddled home 'is health hazard'

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A worried mum says she can't bring her sick daughter home from hospital because her mould-riddled home is a health hazard.

Shipa Kamaly has been trying to get her family out of their one bedroom council flat in Bethnal Green for years because of overcrowding and recurring black patches on the wall.

Her three-month-old baby daughter, Amara, has leukaemia and Shipa wants her to return home after her latest round of chemotherapy.

"I’ve been living like this since 2018," Shipa told ITV News London.

"After my son was born that year the damp and the mould had been getting really bad. And year after year I’ve been contacting the council and asking them for help, but year after year the mould is coming back.

"Why does the mould keep coming? All the council have done is given us a mould wash with a special cleaner and they have painted over it. But in winter the mould starts seeping in, my children sleep on a mouldy mattress. "They blame me saying I don’t air my house, saying I don’t keep my house clean. I have my windows open every day. I drop my children off to school but even in freezing temperatures I leave windows open.

"I have to have my house clean. Forget about the overcrowding, I decided to have my four children. But the mould I did not decide on," she explained.

Mould on a mattress where Shipa's children sleep Credit: ITV News

Shipa's story caught the attention of her local MP Rushanara Ali who said the state of her home is a risk to her young daughter's life.

"Her daughter, Amara, is three months old and she was born with leukaemia and has never been able to be home with her family because of the treatment she needs," Rushanara Ali told ITV News London

"The condition of housing they have means it would put her life at risk if she was discharged to her current home.

"Miss Kamaly came to see me because she has had no success in getting the local authority, Tower Hamlets, to deal with her need for rehousing in order for her to have her child discharged from hospital so she can be at home now she is in a position where clinically it would be possible for her to be discharged to be at home. 

"But what’s making it impossible is that there is a great deal of dampness and overcrowding - it’s a one-bedroom flat accommodating a family."

She added: "So not suitable for them. They are entitled to be rehoused into a three to four-bedroom property but that hasn’t happened."

Rushanara Ali said it was a "heartbreaking case" and raised concerns that while Amara is kept in the cancer ward it means the hospital bed cannot be used for another child.

A joint spokesperson from Tower Hamlets Homes and Tower Hamlets Council said: "Tower Hamlets Homes is very sorry to hear about this family’s situation.

"We have made three offers of alternative, temporary accommodation so that our repairs contractors can access their current home for up to three weeks while they complete the urgent repairs needed to tackle the damp and mould within the home.

"We have offered temporary 3-bedroomed homes within the borough as well as another flat on the estate where they live, all these offers were refused. "On May 3, the family were granted emergency priority and placed in Band 1A for a permanent move on medical grounds by Tower Hamlets Council.

"This is the highest priority possible under the council’s Allocations Scheme and means they are eligible to bid on alternative properties that become available on Homeseekers under the council’s choice-based lettings scheme.

"It’s important that they are flexible in their bidding strategy to ensure an offer can be made quickly. Our officers continue to be available to provide ongoing support and can be called on 020 7364 5015."

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