2-year-old Awaab died ‘entirely due to mould!’

Two-year-old Awaab was always laughing say his family

TWO YEARS-OLD Awaab Ishak died on 21 December 2020 shortly after his second birthday ‘entirely’ as a result of extensive mould in his flat, the coroner at his inquest declared yesterday.

Coroner Joanne Kearsley found that Awaab ‘died as a result of a severe respiratory condition due to prolonged exposure to mould in his home environment’ and that necessary ‘action to treat and prevent the mould was not taken’.

Lawyer Kelly Darlington read a statement on behalf of Awaab’s family outside Rochdale Coroners Court, saying: ‘The coroner has found that our little boy’s prolonged exposure to mould led entirely to his death.

‘We still cannot get our head around the fact that despite all the complaints we made to Rochdale Boroughwide Housing, in addition to the information Rochdale Boroughwide Housing received from an NHS member of staff expressing her concern for Awaab due to mould at the property, they did absolutely nothing to rectify the severe mould at our property.

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

‘We shouted out as loudly as we could. But despite making all those efforts, every night we were coming back to the same problem.

‘Nothing was changing. It felt like we were getting nowhere and we weren’t. Often our calls weren’t even answered. We don’t feel Rochdale Boroughwide Housing actually cared about us.

‘Awaab’s coughing fits would sometimes last two to three days. There were days we wouldn’t be able to take him outside of the house because of how bad his coughing was.

‘But of course by him staying in the house it made his coughing worse. We were absolutely trapped.

‘Living in these conditions affected every aspect of our lives. We didn’t feel at ease with ourselves living inside the property. All the time we felt troubled. We were anxious and fearful of what the mould was doing to Awaab.

‘Whenever friends would come to visit they would tell us that the conditions that Rochdale Boroughwide Housing was keeping us in was not right. We have no doubt at all that we were treated in this way because we are not from this country and less aware of how the systems in the UK work.

‘Rochdale Boroughwide Housing, we have a message to 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 were left feeling absolutely worthless at the hands of Rochdale Boroughwide Housing.’

Coroner Kearsley said: ‘This issue is not simply a Rochdale problem, nor is damp and mould simply a social housing problem, it is a significant issue in the private sector too.

‘There is little doubt that the tragic death of Awaab Ishak will and should be a defining moment for the housing sector.’