Dagenham mum says council is 'neglecting daughters' health'

Charlee Hebben and Scarlett

Charlee Hebben said her four-year-old daughter is becoming increasingly unwell in the family's Dagenham temporary accommodation - Credit: Charlee Hebben

A Dagenham mother is demanding to be moved to new housing after her young daughter was admitted to hospital after suffering a severe asthma attack.

Charlee Hebben, 27, was moved into temporary accommodation on Cook Road around eight months ago by Barking and Dagenham Council.

The concerned mum said her four-year-old daughter Scarlett Haynes has suffered from increasingly acute attacks because of the mould and condensation in the flat.

scarlett in Dagenham

Four-year-old Scarlett suffers from asthma attacks and has been "constantly ill", her mum says - Credit: Charlee Hebben

The council said the accommodation is "built to current house building regulations", which includes having "all the appropriate insulation measures".

Charlee told the Post: "She's never been this bad in her life. She's been admitted to hospital because it's gotten so bad.

"The doctor had to give her steroids because she couldn't breathe. She's constantly ill and I'm worried it's going to get worse and worse if we stay here."

Scarlett is still recovering from her latest asthma attack, which left her so poorly that she was kept overnight at King George Hospital last Monday (November 29).

The Cook Road flat is plagued with damp and mould

The Cook Road flat is plagued with damp and mould - Credit: Charlee Hebben

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Charlee said she is forced to spend £99 each month on heating, yet the flat is still cold.

"The heat just seems to get sucked out," she explained.

"We're constantly putting on layers and blankets, and spend most of our time in our dressing gowns to try and stay warm.

"If Scarlett doesn't have anything on her feet then they're freezing cold."

"Every time I wipe away the mould it comes back weeks later -  I feel like the council is neglecting her health."

The council argued this cost is "not solely" for heating, but an all-inclusive cost for the electric supply, and Charlee could choose to switch to a cheaper energy tariff and provider.

The mum and daughter live on Cook Road in Dagenham

The mum and daughter live on Cook Road in Dagenham - Credit: Charlee Hebben

Charlee said she has been moved three times by the council in the past four years since moving out of her mother's home. 

Describing the home she shares with Scarlett as "like a shipping container", she claimed it's "more like a portacabin than a flat".

The 27-year-old fears condensation on plug sockets could cause a serious accident, particularly those in Scarlett's bedroom.

condensation in Dagenham flat

The worried mother said condensation on electric sockets is a recipe for disaster - Credit: Charlee Hebben

Charlee, who is also recovering after being diagnosed with thyroid cancer last year, added: "It's just been so stressful. I'm in remission but the cancer could come back at any time.

"I'm sure living in a house covered in mould and damp isn't helping my health, and I'm so worried about my daughter.

"We don't feel safe here and the council is refusing to respond to me -  I don't know what else to do."

A spokesperson for Barking and Dagenham Council said they are "very sorry" to hear about Scarlett's illness and "hope she is recovering".

They confirmed an inspection was made to the home on November 16 following concerns around condensation and mould and Charlee has been offered advice about how to limit condensation.

The spokesperson added: "Should she require further advice and guidance on how to adequately heat and ventilate her property, we are happy to assist."

"Our records show that Ms Hebben has indeed been provided with three different temporary accommodation addresses in the period suggested.

"Should she require further advice on how to obtain longer-term housing, we are happy to provide this.”

According to research by poverty and inequality charity Trust for London, as of 2020/2021, 19.41 households per 1,000 in Barking and Dagenham live in temporary accommodation.

This is higher than the total in Greater London (16.98) and dramatically more than the average in the rest of England (1.75).

The issue of significant numbers living in temporary accommodation is seen nationwide; the latest government figures show that, as of the end of June, there were 96,600 households across England in such accommodation.

damp in Dagenham flat

Condensation and damp have ruined the family's belongings - Credit: Charlee Hebben

mould in Dagenham flat

Charlee said she is constantly removing mould from the flat but it comes back weeks later - Credit: Charlee Hebben