Mum and daughter with asthma fear for health living in mould-ridden flat

Izzy now sleeps on a mattress in the living room due to the issue and says her daughter's breathing problems are getting worse.

A mum and daughter living with asthma in a mould-ridden flat have made a desperate plea for help over health fears.

Both Izzy Bruce and her ten-year-old daughter Dacia have the respiratory condition, which they believe is being exacerbated by living in the Methil flat ravaged by damp and mould.

Izzy said the problem was caused by a leak in the roof, with the worst affected area being a wall in the main bedroom which is plagued with black mould.

The mum, who now sleeps in the living room, fears her daughter’s health issues are getting worse.

She told STV News: “She has been hospitalised, when she was very young, week after week after week with it.

“So I’m scared.

“The roof has been a problem since I’ve been in here, it’s been a major problem.

“They send roofers up constantly all the time, and it just doesn’t seem to get any better, it doesn’t get fixed.”

Izzy says that despite making numerous efforts, her letting agent and landlord have failed to carry out any substantial repairs to the flat.

She is looking for alternative accommodation, but says she would struggle to afford most private lets on the market.

Izzy is on the list for a council home, but as many others have found in Fife – one of four local authorities to have declared a housing emergency – those are in short supply.

She said she constantly worries for her daughter’s health, to the point it consumes her life.

“Stressed out my box, I’m stressed out my head,” she said. “I feel like I’m having a nervous breakdown.

“I need out of here.”

It comes after new research revealed 69% of children’s social workers in Scotland have witnessed young people living in mould and damp.

The study from the Social Workers Union found that two thirds of those working in the profession across the UK have witnessed youngsters living in such conditions.

The bedroom is one of the worst affected areas

The causes of dampness can vary, but experts have warned in the past that the cost of living crisis and rises in energy prices will cause or worsen cases across the UK, as people opt to heat their homes less top save money.

John McGowan, General Secretary of the Social Workers Union, said: “While politicians try to kid themselves that the cost of living crisis is over, the reports from our members show just how dangerous this winter has been.

“All too often social workers are reporting seeing people living in substandard and dangerous housing. This happens in all parts of the country, but we know that people living in the private rented sector can be among the worst affected.

“Children living in cold, damp, mouldy homes is a national scandal and we need to see drastic action being taken to fix Britain’s broken energy system.”

Dr Cath Lowther, General Secretary of the Association of Educational Psychologists, said: “Children and young people living in the damp and the cold cannot thrive and develop. Living in such conditions is adversity, plain and simple.

“Adverse Childhood Experiences are known to have long term negative impact on all aspects of people’s lives.

“This involves significant increased risk to physical health as well as further risks to mental health and achievement in school.

“Nobody can concentrate on schoolwork when all they can think about is trying to keep warm. And how confident will a child or young person feel about inviting their friends over to such a home?

Mould on window blinds

“If the government is serious about improving the lives of our children and young people, starting with safe, adequate housing needs to be a priority.”

Simon Francis, coordinator of the End Fuel Poverty Coalition, added: “The price households pay for their energy is still higher than in 2021 and levels of energy debt are soaring. Meanwhile the wider cost of living crisis means people simply can’t afford to keep the heating on when it’s needed most.

“What we need to see is a much faster roll out of programmes to improve the energy efficiency of buildings and bring down the cost of energy. The reality is though that there will also need to be a structured programme of financial support announced well in advance to help people though next winter.”

Warm This Winter campaign spokesperson Fiona Waters said: “This is a heart-rendering and all too familiar story where the most vulnerable are at risk because of our broken energy system and we need urgent change before even more children, the elderly and others become ill or worse.

“As a rich country at the very least we should be giving our people warm, dry, healthy homes to live in. That’s why we need long term solutions such as expanding homegrown renewable energy and a mass programme of insulation to bring down bills once and for all so these appalling living conditions are banished to the past where they belong.”

Housing Minister Paul McLennan said: “Scotland has delivered more than 128,000 affordable homes since 2007, over 90,000 of which were for social rent, including over 24,000 council homes.

“The Scottish Government is committed to tackling disrepair in housing and helping more people to live in warm, safe and dry homes.

“Private landlords are required by law to comply with the Repairing Standard, and this includes standards relating to dampness. Where these standards are not being met, tenants can apply to the Housing and Property Chamber for an independent review.”

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