Watch: ‘We moved our baby daughter from our mould-ridden Sandwell Council home, it's so disgusting’

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Mum of three Katie Roberts has spoken out about the conditions of her family’s council home in Sandwell

A desperate mum is pleading to be moved out of her mould-ridden council home in Sandwell.

Katie Roberts, 26, says she is being forced to live in 'disgusting' conditions alongside her partner, three children and her sister in Wednesbury, West Midlands.

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She even has letters from doctors saying the mould is a 'significant risk' to the young children's health - and has urged Sandwell Council to help. The situation has become so unbearable for the family that Katie's three-month-old daughter Willow is living with her grandmother.

The tot was prescribed inhalers having developed a wheeze and a cough while her two other children - Hunter, three, and Scarlett, two - also have health conditions which she says is due to the mould.

Katie said: "I'm separated from my baby, and we can't form the attachment between a baby and mother that is so important to them in their early life. This mould has made her that ill that she's at the doctors pretty much every week. 

"The letters from the doctors even say that she needs to be moved to a safe environment. There are just too many people and too much furniture in the house that the air can't circulate and it's causing mould. In the summer, we can open the windows, but when it gets to winter, that isn't an option."

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(L to R) Katie Roberts, Ashley Rust , Willow,13 weeks, Scarlett and Hunter. A desperate mum says she and her children are suffering from constant illness after being forced to live in a freezing mould-ridden house(L to R) Katie Roberts, Ashley Rust , Willow,13 weeks, Scarlett and Hunter. A desperate mum says she and her children are suffering from constant illness after being forced to live in a freezing mould-ridden house
(L to R) Katie Roberts, Ashley Rust , Willow,13 weeks, Scarlett and Hunter. A desperate mum says she and her children are suffering from constant illness after being forced to live in a freezing mould-ridden house | Tim Sturgess / Express and Star

When Katie was pregnant with Willow, a letter from her GP addressed to the council read: "The mould issue is a significant risk factor to the health of her unborn child. It would be in Katie's and her unborn child's best interest for her to be relocated as soon as possible to a bigger property with four bedrooms and a garden."

Katie, who lives with partner Ashley, 27, has accused the council of 'not taking them seriously'' despite begging to be relocated to more suitable housing. She said another reason for needing a bigger house is because Hunter has suspected autism often having meltdowns, and requires his own space.

Katie, who cannot work due to suffering from PTSD, social anxiety disorder, autism and paranoid schizophrenia, added: "The doctors are really concerned about my children. My boy has asthma now too and is also on inhalers. He has to have his own room, he cannot share anything, he has meltdowns. He needs his own calm space."

Because of her history of complex mental health issues, Katie is also worried about the growing impact her living situation is having on her own wellbeing. Both her and Ashley are considered disabled because of their poor mental health and cannot work.

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A wall in the mould-ridden Sandwell Council house where Katie Roberts lives with her young familyA wall in the mould-ridden Sandwell Council house where Katie Roberts lives with her young family
A wall in the mould-ridden Sandwell Council house where Katie Roberts lives with her young family | Tim Sturgess / Express and Star

She said: "I've had to be put on even more medication because of the stress of living like this. I'm scared of what will happen if I keep getting pushed and pushed. I will end up in hospital again and I can't, I have three kids. We need to be moved, it needs to be done. 

"There is no space, the lack of air circulation is affecting my children's physical health and my mental health because I can see that my children are ill. It is so small and cramped, I'm up early in the morning just cleaning.

“It's so overcrowded it's not right. It's the waiting time that's the worst thing. I don't know how many letters it will take. They need to treat this like the emergency that it is."

Katie Roberts, Ashley Rust, baby Willow, Scarlett and Hunter outside their mould-ridden Sandwell Council houseKatie Roberts, Ashley Rust, baby Willow, Scarlett and Hunter outside their mould-ridden Sandwell Council house
Katie Roberts, Ashley Rust, baby Willow, Scarlett and Hunter outside their mould-ridden Sandwell Council house | Tim Sturgess / Express and Star

A Sandwell Council spokesperson said: "A full fungi wash was completed in the lounge, hallway and bedrooms 1 and 2 on 29 April and the cavity air bricks to the lounge and front bedroom were already started on Thursday (May 16).

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"An officer was due to visit Ms Roberts on Friday (May 17) to discuss her housing options and ensure that she is happy with the work being done to the property. A follow-up call will be made within four months to check if the issue has recurred and, if needed, more intervention will then take place.

"Where treatment to damp and mould doesn’t mitigate the risk to the tenant we would offer temporary accommodation, that hasn’t being deemed necessary in this case but will be reviewed at the follow-up visits already scheduled.

"Priority to reflect the overcrowding at the property has been awarded to their housing application, however demand for properties is far greater than supply which means even applicants with a priority band can wait a long time to be allocated a property. 

"This is a national challenge and the number of households on our housing register has more than doubled since June 2020, from 6,700 to more than 15,000. We will discuss other housing options with the tenant in addition to bidding for properties, which could include looking for a mutual exchange or options within the private rented sector."

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