Death of two-year-old boy should be a ‘defining moment’ for UK housing sector

Despite claims being made to Rochdale Borough Housing (RBH), black mould was left untreated in a flat in Rochdale and has resulted in the death of Awaab Ishack. 

The two-year-old boy passed away in December 2020 due to developing severe respiratory problems. 

After the court hearing, lawyers for Awaab’s parents read a statement in which they accused the social housing provider, RBH, of doing nothing over the number of years to treat the mould problem that killed their son. 

The statement read: ‘Rochdale Boroughwide Housing, we have a message for you: stop discriminating. Stop being racist. Stop providing unfair treatment to people coming from abroad who are refugees or asylum seekers. Stop housing people in homes you know are unfit for human habitation.

‘We cannot tell you how many health professionals we’ve cried in front of and Rochdale Borough Staff we have pleaded to, expressing concern for the conditions ourselves and Awaab have been living in.’

Rochdale’s Coroner’s Court heard Awaab’s father reported mould developing in the kitchen and bathroom in their one-bedroom flat in 2017, but RBH told them to ‘paint over it’.

In June 2020, Mr Abdullah informed solicitors of the conditions his family were living in and initiated a claim over the reoccurring mould issue. However, authorities told him that due to policy reasons, any repairs could not be completed until an agreement had been reached.

Later in the year, on 19th December 2020, the court heard Awaab was taken to Rochdale Urgent Care with shortness of breath and transferred to Royal Oldham Hospital before being discharged.

After deteriorating the next day, Awaab’s parents were informed by the community children’s nursing team, to take their son back to urgent care centre. Here, he suffered a cardiac and respiratory arrest and died after being transferred to hospital.

Coroner Joanne Kearsley concluded at the end of the trial that the ventilation in the one-bedroom flat was not effective and was a ‘direct contributing factor in the development of the mould’.

Ms Kearsley also said: ‘The tragic death of Awaab will and should be a defining moment for the housing sector in terms of increasing knowledge, increasing awareness and a deepening of understanding surrounding the issue of damp and mould.’

The inquest also heard Awaab had consistently suffered with colds and respiratory issues throughout his life and in September 2020, a community midwife had completed a special circumstances form to children’s services outlining concerns about the mould and potential impact on his health.

However, Ms Kearsley said the document was not shared with the GP or health visitor and there was ‘no evidence’ to show it was received by children’s services or to show that ‘any action was taken’.


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