Mould-plagued flats are causing children to get ill, according to their parents who say they feel “helpless”.
The Iveagh Court Residents Group, in Bracknell, which represents around 44 per cent of the flats in the complex, has grouped together to demand changes to their living conditions.
The group said that the conditions that they have been subjected to have had “health-triggering effects” on residents, especially young children
According to the group, the children affected have had doctors attribute chest infections, bronchiolitis and severe asthma to the untreated black mould which they say is in more than 80 per cent of the 120-odd homes on the estate.
There are currently two five-month-olds, two one-year-olds, a three-year-old, two five-year-olds, a seven-year-old and a 13-year-old child that have been suffering from either severe asthma or other chest illnesses.
There are also several adults with long-term coughs.
According to the group, doctors have treated a one-year-old, twice, for bronchiolitis and have attributed the illness to the growing mould.
The group also stressed that this is just one of the issues.
Housing association Silva Homes owns Iveagh Court and recently completed an £11.5 million refurbishment. But the group said the works have done nothing to fix the “pre-existing” issues.
Some people were sent to another estate whilst they got on with work there and people started returning to their flats at the beginning of this year.
A spokesperson for the Iveagh Court Residents Group said: “The refurbishment issue was sparked by a damp issue. It’s starting to get worse and worse and worse.
“Only three of us have shower units but none of them work. They’ve repainted everywhere and added panels, repainted the communal areas and that’s all they’ve done.
“They haven’t fixed any of the existing problems. People have to walk into puddles because they haven’t repaved the steeps. It’s a health hazard because it’s causing a pool of ice.
“The refurbishment was a failure and waste of money.”
They also stressed that residents feel “powerless” and “helpless” because they are calling the one body that can help and “they’re not getting anything back other than a generic call”.
The spokesperson said: “We had someone to look at damp in my son’s room under his bed. He said ‘oh it’s the way the buildings were built so you’ll have to put an extractor fan in the bedroom’.
“I went to Silva and they said there’s nothing you can do about it you’ll have to keep your window open, but we’re in winter. I can’t have a three-year-old in cold conditions.”
They then explained that they’re having to leave the windows open when their son is at nursery to let the air out. When he gets home the heating needs to be put on which means that the “electricity bill has skyrocketed”.
Some families also have to share bathwater because there is not enough hot water and only some of the families have shower units, but none of them currently work.
One person was told to wash their son “every other day or take him to a family member or friend’s house”.
Dasos Christou, executive director (customer relations) at Silva Homes, said: “Our customers have every right to expect us to provide good quality homes.
“We work to provide this to 7,500 households and are concerned to hear reports of cases which fall below the standards we set for ourselves, and our customers expect of us.
“Iveagh Court has recently undergone an extensive regeneration project including structural improvements and complete refurbishment of all 114 flats.
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“As with most large-scale building work, there were some issues after work was completed, including issues with water pressure, and we have been working hard to find solutions for these.
“We believe that some other issues raised in the letter from the group of residents have already been addressed over the past few months, but we will investigate this further and take action as our priority is to make sure all residents feel safe and happy with their homes.
“We recognise that we need to do more to improve spaces where people live and keep customers updated about issues that matter to them.
“We will be contacting every household at Iveagh Court in response to the letter we have received, by the end of this week. If there are problems we have yet to address, we will work with customers to find solutions and fix them.
“I would encourage anyone who wishes to contact us about this to get in touch at [email protected]”