The reality of living in poverty in 2012 - heartbreaking (contains distressing information about the death of a child)

(38 Posts)

This story is in my local paper today. You may find it distressing. I certainly did.

In brief it features a mum who was living with her young son and baby and partner in a one bed flat in York. The flat was damp. The council knew it was damp but as the one bedroom was very crowded condensation etc was seeminly inevitable. The family were filmed by the Guardian for their poverty series. 4 weeks after filming the baby died sudenly. No cause has yet been found for her death.

I live in York. I am bitterly ashamed to live in a city where such a thing could happen. The pictures in the film remind me of those from the late 19th/early 20th century when so much pioneering work was done combating poverty. The film is heartbreaking (i'm at work so i haven't yet heard it with the sound up). Baby Telan should be happy and healthy. If she was my child the statistics say that she would probably still be happy and healthy but her parents were poor and so she's dead. I can't believe that happens in 2012.

Or maybe it's just me?

escape Wed 21-Nov-12 16:02:22

It's very tragic - you are right, no one should be living like that in 2012. Unfortunately , the mother would have no recourse with the council until the toxicology & histology reports are done in regards to her daughters death - none of which would bring the child back anyway sad

I'm going to write to our MP about it. I know he has a strong interest in social policy anyway.

littleducks Wed 21-Nov-12 19:27:46

It is tragic that she died but I do wish they had waited till they had all test results before publishing the article. The damp may have contributed to her death, or she may have had an undetected health problem or something else I would not know about.

This us probably going to terrify parents living in damp houses, either their own or rented and it may not have been the cause.

I hope the family get moved soon or manage to find a private rental.

Kormachameleon Wed 21-Nov-12 19:36:29

It is tragic. Truly it is

But I can't help wondering why people continually bring children ito these type of environments - the description and photograph looks horrendous and certainly not the type of place I could bring a child home to

Harsh, I know and the situation is bleak but you have to put your children's first and of that means not having them well so be it

Well Korma they don't have her now do they?

When the baby was born they thought they would eventually be re-housed, that the flat they were in was temporary. They have been rehoused now but it's too late. The council should be ensuring everybody who requires social houseing is safely housed. That didn't happen for this family and another family referenced in teh Guardian article here had a similar situation.

AThingInYourLife Wed 21-Nov-12 19:56:08

"But I can't help wondering why people continually bring children ito these type of environments"


Fucking poor people having children. It oughtn't be allowed.

Kormachameleon Wed 21-Nov-12 20:01:32

Yeah I pretty much expected that response

But I'll stand by it - if you cannot adequately house, feed, educate , clothe a child then it is not ideal to have them

She already had one child living in total poverty

AThingInYourLife Wed 21-Nov-12 20:08:00

It might not be "ideal" to have them, but to bring that argument to bear on the death of a baby is fucking shameful.

This country is fucked while such ugly moralising is socially acceptable.

hf128219 Wed 21-Nov-12 20:08:08

It is very sad indeed. But the mum is clean and dressed well. I have seen so many far worse places where a child is being brought up.

Korma - you can't choose your life and should not judge others.

Korma - do you mean in your posts to effectively blame those parents for the death of their child? Not failures by the local council or the national government who have a legal responsibility to house them safely but the parents? Is that the impression you mean to give?

lisalisa Wed 21-Nov-12 20:15:27

That is so incredibly sad. Mould is known to be harmful - I'm sure I've reaad this in numerous places. Poor family and baby caught in the poverty trap.

Kormachameleon Wed 21-Nov-12 20:16:45

No I absolutely do not blame the parents for the baby's death

I cannot imagine the pain they are in, I'm not completely heartless

I just don't like the blame being placed in the government/ housing dept etc

It was a tragedy but that aside, I think it is a parents duty to adequately house their child. Yes you may need help but I think the responsibility to house a child is the parents - the government are not responsible for our decisions

But I don't have the energy to argue about it so ill leave you to it

AThingInYourLife Wed 21-Nov-12 20:17:51

Or perhaps the argument is that this little girl is no loss to the world since she should never have been born to her feckless parents?

The parents did the best they could to bear that responsibility. Family houses are expensive to rent in York. When we were looking 14 years ago dh was earning 13,000 and we couldn't afford to rent. What saved us was being able to buy but the same house now costs around 4 times as much.

AThingInYourLife Wed 21-Nov-12 20:20:51

"I just don't like the blame being placed in the government/ housing dept etc"

She was their tenant.

If she died because the housing they provided was damp, then it is their fault.

Your morality has to be seriously corroded to blame a tenant for their own poor housing because they should be able to afford better.

gaelicsheep Wed 21-Nov-12 20:20:58

Korma -unless someone is wealthy enough to own their own home, and yes these days you need to be very wealthy to buy for the first time, then they are always at risk of poor living conditions. Rents are exhorbitant in many areas, landlords are so frequently total crooks and the law is seemingly non existent in practice. It is shameful, and to not understand/acknowledge this is pretty poor as well.

axure Wed 21-Nov-12 20:21:09

Sorry but I agree with Korma, she got pregnant and had her 2nd child whilst already living in obviously inadequate accommodation. Why didn't they wait until they had been rehoused? Possibly because they thought a second child would increase their chances of a move. Also the report states they had a dog as well, no doubt compounding the problem.
I would never in a million years have planned to bring a baby into that environment. Having a baby is not a right, and you need to take some responsibility and ensure that you are able to support yourself and your family, not rely on benefits and expect free housing.

Kormachameleon Wed 21-Nov-12 20:22:08

Athing - you are twisting my words and clearly looking for an argument
At no point did I say it wasn't terrible or she won't be missed

gaelicsheep Wed 21-Nov-12 20:23:11

We're currently renting. It's a nice cottage, nicely dn

AThingInYourLife Wed 21-Nov-12 20:25:06

I'm really not looking for an argument.

I feel too nauseated by the kind of unspeakable arseholes I apparently share a country with to have the stomach for it.

Saying something is terrible while you justify it and blame the victims is not worth a lot really. Is it?

gaelicsheep Wed 21-Nov-12 20:28:46

We're currently renting. It's a nice cottage, nicely done up, as good as we can afford. We have mould everywhere and it isn't through lack of ventilation or any of the other crap they spout to blame tenants. The place is built with poor quality stone and has been inappropriately modernised. I worry about my children's health every day, but thank god their room is the only one without mould. We are doing the best we possibly can. But perhaps you should only be able to have children if you can livein a house you own? Maybe a pre-conception inspection would be n

gaelicsheep Wed 21-Nov-12 20:29:31

We're currently renting. It's a nice cottage, nicely done up, as good as we can afford. We have mould everywhere and it isn't through lack of ventilation or any of the other crap they spout to blame tenants. The place is built with poor quality stone and has been inappropriately modernised. I worry about my children's health every day, but thank god their room is the only one without mould. We are doing the best we possibly can. But perhaps you should only be able to have children if you can livein a house you own? Maybe a pre-conception inspection would be in order?

gaelicsheep Wed 21-Nov-12 20:30:51

Oh dear,sorry! Damned touchscreen keyboard!

HoleyGhost Wed 21-Nov-12 20:33:21

It is an awful tragedy but we don't know that the mould caused the baby's death.

It is also not clear who is responsible for mould caused by condensation. I understood that opening windows every day and cleaning any mould with bleach was the tenant's responsibility.

Happy to be corrected.

gaelicsheep Wed 21-Nov-12 20:37:25

HoleyGhost -who says she wasn't doing that? We do. Isn't it funny how condensation is only such a problem in rented houses, where landlords can't be bothered to install working extractor fans, etc.? How convenient that it's the tenant's fault for breathing!

defuse Wed 21-Nov-12 20:41:09

I feel so annoyed at people who sit passing judgments on who should and who should not have kids! Or the whole 'they had kids so they could get somewhere bigger from the government' attitude.

For goodness sake! This is a tragedy and it is not an isolated case. So many families live in these conditions, but instead of having compassion, trying to solve this issue, some people decide that they will get sickeningly 'they should have done it differently' over it all!

Do you guys always need someone totally vulnerable to blame so that you can feel good about yourselves??!

Rant over!

gaelicsheep Wed 21-Nov-12 20:41:24

Also, cleaning with bleach doesn't help with the spores surely. We've had mould grow on a piece of furniture nowherenear the wall, it's appeared in the space of one day on a new patch of penetrating damp. It's surely in the air in many cases.

HoleyGhost Wed 21-Nov-12 20:43:07

I know. I've lived in mouldy rented houses and hated having to deal with it.

I agree re extractor fans. Also repainting with mould resistant paint would have been sensible. Our landlords were useless.

But leaving mould unchecked was not an option. Dettox worked best.

Sarahplane Wed 21-Nov-12 20:51:22

Such a sad story. Whether the damp and mould was to blame or not people should not be living like that in this day and age.

gaelicsheep Wed 21-Nov-12 20:53:24

But the problem is that making that the tenant's responsibility is carte blanche for landlords to deny theirs, such as they are.

I think tenants should do what they can to air the home etc. Problem is for this family they were so over-crowded that wasn't possible. There is no dettox etc that will stop the condensation in a small room occupied every night by four people. If they had known the baby was going to die I'm sure they would have tried to get out - but tbh they were already trying that. They logged the mould, they switched off the heating, they were waiting for a bigger home.

Furthermore - I bought this story to mumsnet because I am dismayed and horrified by what has happened to a baby in my own city. I have no problem at all in saying that the housing conditions contributed to that child's sudden and tragic death. I didn't bring the story here for people to point and say 'shouldn't have kids'. If you watch that film, watch that father bathing his baby, watch that mother playing with her. Watch her rolling about on that bed because there's no where else for her to play. If you can watch all that and then all you can say is 'its' a tragedy but....' then truly I have no words for you.

BarbecuedBillygoats Wed 21-Nov-12 21:35:17

Switching of the heating won't have helped
A constant low ambient temperature would be better (but expensive)

And I only know this because we live in a house with damp and mould. Our income is slightly above national average and we pay nearly half in rent so its supposedly not some crummy house
My husband is pretty ill with it. He has asthma and they've had to up his meds, which makes him vomit so he's also on anti emetics.
We can't afford to move.
If we can't get out I can see how easy it is that they were stuck

defuse Wed 21-Nov-12 22:15:19

Hi northernlurker . Sorry - i wasnt having a go at you. I am glad you mentioned this story. It is important that people know how some have to live.

I remember watching some documentary on tv a while back and they showed house after house with severe damp issues - all had little children residing. All had landlords who didnt care. Something does need to be done to address this issue. Health issues associated with damp are well documented. But landlords need to be held responsible for at least attempting to tackle this issue.

gaelicsheep Wed 21-Nov-12 22:48:59

I haven't said this yet, but I'm desperately sorry for this poor family, such a terrible tragedy.

As for this damp/ condensation/ventilation issue, I don't get it. If a house/flat has an inherent damp issue then airing only goes so far. Looking at that picture it went way further than condensation. The place was riddled. Either previous tenants have let it build up to the point it is inherent, or poor maintenance is at fault.

I can't believe that tenants specifically do not air their houses enough. We didn't change the way we live when we moved from our own home to a rented place. That response to the problem is simplistic and frankly a total cop out. Inadequate maintenance and works done on the cheap, if at all - that is the real problem. It needs sorting out and soon.

Poor little baby - if you watch the film, they're just a family like anybody else, caught in the poverty trap because their previous landlord decided to sell up and the father is epileptic and can't get work. The fungus growing in their one, overcrowded bedroom is a disgrace, and there really is a limit to what you can do with mould. My baby ended up in hospital with breathing problems when we lived in a damp house, thankfully he was ok. This film made me cry. Anyone who judges them, just remember that any one of us is only a redundancy, a bereavement, an accident or an illness away from poverty. We have a duty to help people like this.

As chance would have it I was doing the intercessory prayers at church this morning so I mention Telan's family then. Have also e-mailed our MP to ask him what he will do in response to this case.

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