Mum and Disabled Son Forced to Live in Flat with Hole in Ceiling

H&F Council fails to carry out repairs for over a year

Afolake Dairo has been left with a hole in her ceiling for over a year
Afolake Dairo has been left with a hole in her ceiling for over a year

A mum and her disabled son have been forced to live with a gaping hole in the ceiling for over a year – and now fear it’s going to collapse again. Afolake Dairo, 52, also had to go to hospital after mould in her council home made her sickle cell disease worse.

Afolake is living out of a suitcase and has to sleep in her living room as her bedroom is still covered in rubble because her ceiling hasn’t been fixed by Hammersmith & Fulham Council. The mum, known as Fola, first complained to the council in April 2021 that her bathroom was leaking and there was mould growing on her bedroom ceiling.

Water leaked into the room through her lights whenever anyone showered and Fola had to empty a bucket every three or four days. But nothing was done and water continued to leak through the ceiling. It eventually collapsed in September 2021.

To this day a hole remains in her ceiling and the council is yet to fix the issue. Fola, holding back tears, said, “I feel stuck. I have no clothes to wear. There are cracks in the ceiling so eventually, it will come down again. Every time I go in that bedroom I start coughing like I am going to die.

“The only private space I have in my house is my bedroom because of my son and his need for carers. I’m sleeping in the living room. I showed the doctors – they were shocked.”

Mould has continued to grow in Fola’s bedroom and she is worried about the impact it is having on her health. Earlier this year she had respiratory failure and a doctor from Hammersmith Hospital wrote to Hammersmith and Fulham Council asking them to fix Fola’s home.

A letter seen by the Local Democracy Reporting Service from a doctor at the hospital said, “I reviewed Ms Dario in the sickle cell clinic on January 13, 2022 in a very tearful consultation where she reports painful sickle crisis and worsening asthma due to the dampness of her home.

“A more than 20 stair climb to get to the bedrooms which is made extremely difficult by chronic knee and back problems due to complications of sickle cell disease and allergic symptoms which may have precipitated from the mould on the walls.

“Ms Dairo’s health conditions are being limited by her current living situation and as a carer for her son with disability. She is under significant physical and psychological stress requiring intervention from a number of our team and other medical specialties.”

Afolake Dairo outside her home
Afolake Dairo outside her home

If Fola does have to go into her bedroom she makes sure to wear a mask. She is so terrified of the mould she keeps the room locked up.

She has left most of her clothes in the room and she is too scared to wear them in case the mould has spread to them. Instead, she sleeps in the living room or her daughter’s bedroom as she is away studying.

Fola added, “I never imagined I would live like this. When I send the pictures to my friends in Nigeria they say: ‘Is this England?’ They couldn’t believe it. My voice sounds awful. I have started avoiding people because I cough so much I can not speak.”

She has been looking to move out of the property for 11 years but she has not found somewhere suitable for her adult disabled son. She has lived at the Hammersmith property for 25 years.

When the Local Democracy Reporting Service visited the property there was mould near the bathroom and Fola explained her toilet still leaked when it is used.

Fola’s lawyers have been speaking to Hammersmith and Fulham Council on her behalf and they recently offered her £3,600 in compensation and offered to move her to a different property while they fixed her home. She has already received £150 for the issues with her bathroom.

But Fola said the properties she has seen are not suitable for her severely autistic son and she is hoping another property can be found.

A Hammersmith and Fulham Council spokesperson said, “We sincerely apologise to Ms Dairo for the inconvenience and delay in fixing her ceiling. We have identified a temporary home for the entire family and already accompanied Ms Dairo for a viewing.

“This means we can shortly begin to carry out the repair work. In the long-term, we are looking for a new and suitable permanent home with a garden for Ms Dairo and her family.”

Jacob Phillips - Local Democracy Reporter

October 21, 2022