Woman, 42, says she is ‘lucky to be alive’ after claiming mould infestation in council flat that went untreated for THREE years left her suffering severe reaction that caused face to swell up
- Louise Derrick noticed mould in bedroom of her Wallington, south London flat
- Claims she reported issue to Sutton’s housing team but nothing was done
- While trying to clean her furniture she said she suffered severe allergic reaction
- Photos show her face swollen from reaction which closed up her eyes and throat
- She says she has been diagnosed with Functional Neurological Disorder and has chronic asthma
A former salon manager has claimed she suffered a near-fatal reaction to a mould infestation after it went untreated in her council flat for three years.
Louise Derrick says she first noticed black fungus growing around the windows of her bedroom and living room of her one-bed council flat in Wallington, South London three years ago.
The 42-year-old reported it to the Sutton Housing Partnership but said nothing was done and the mould was left to turning her home into ‘absolute hell’ and have a devastating impact on her health.
Louise says she then suffered a severe reaction to the mould while trying to clean it off her furniture and was now ‘lucky to be alive’.
Terrifying pictures show her face swollen and her eyes almost closed from the effects of swelling she claims was brought on by the infestation.
Former salon manager Louise Derrick, 42, claims she suffered a severe allergic reaction to black mould after it took over the walls of her home in Wallington, south London and destroyed her furniture
Terrifying pictures show Louise after her face swelled up and her eyes almost closed. She claims the reaction was brought on by the infestation
She was then forced to quit her job as a salon manager after developing Functional Neurological Disorder (FND), which leaves her with reduced mobility and chronic asthma.
She claims nurses told her that her severe reaction was to the mould while visitors have said the smell hits them as soon as they come in her house.
Sutton Housing Partnership responded saying they have ‘been working very closely’ with Louise since 2019 on the issue and that they recently began work set to complete this week.
However Louise says efforts to tackle the mould only started on June 14 – which she claims was too late to stop the mould destroying many of her possessions.
‘I found out I was severely allergic to the mould while trying to clean and save my furniture – my eyes and throat closed up until I couldn’t see or breathe,’ said Louise.
‘My whole face and body were burnt and blistered, even inside my eyelids and mouth, which took almost four weeks to heal and the blisters have left scars on my skin. The pain was horrific.
Louise says she first noticed black fungus growing around the windows of her bedroom and living room of her one-bed council flat in Wallington, South London three years ago. It then spread throughout her flat
‘I almost died, it was really scary. I had to have three injections of adrenaline in my leg to save my life.
‘I couldn’t see for days because my face was so swollen but when I could it was so upsetting – I looked like someone had thrown acid in my face.
‘The mould has destroyed my entire home as well. I’ve lost absolutely everything, even things that can’t be replaced like a suitcase of my dad’s things who’s recently passed away.
‘I used to have a beautiful bedroom but the mould took over my whole bed and now I’m on the mouldy sofa with throws over me to try and stop me breathing too much in.
‘I loved my home so it’s devastating.’
The 42-year-old reported it to the Sutton Housing Partnership but said nothing was done and the mould was left to turning her home into ‘absolute hell’ and have a devastating impact on her health
Louise was diagnosed with Functional Neurological Disorder (FND) two and a half years ago but suffered from collapsing spells for years before that.
She was forced to give up work as a salon manager as the condition worsened and made her wheelchair-bound and it is now so bad that she is completely housebound.
She claims being trapped in the mould-ridden flat has forced her health to plummet even further, leading her to be diagnosed with chronic asthma two years ago as well as suffering severe anaphylactic reactions to the mould.
She now has to take oral steroids in an effort to prevent more allergic reactions, which could kill her.
Louise said: ‘I first noticed the mould three years ago around the corners of the windows and it was jet black.
‘Since then it’s come through the wallpaper and made it start to peel off, created huge damp patches on the walls and ceilings and completely destroyed everything in the flat.
‘I noticed when I was in the bedroom I got very chesty and I was diagnosed with chronic asthma – the nurse said it was from constantly breathing the mould in.
‘Visitors say the smell of it in the air hits you like a wall when you walk through the door into the flat. It’s absolute hell.
Louise was forced to give up work as a salon manager as the condition worsened and made her wheelchair-bound and it is now so bad that she is completely housebound
‘It would be dangerous for someone well to live amongst all this mould, never mind someone who’s really unwell like me.
‘I have to have physio because of my condition [FND] and my mobility has got even worse because of being crunched up on the couch for so long.’
Louise said she first reported the mould to her landlord at the Sutton Housing Partnership three years ago and has since repeatedly contacted them begging them to deal with it.
She also claims that despite sending photos of the mould as it spread and letters from her doctor and MP urging them to take action, it has taken four months of campaigning from her local MP Elliot Colburn to make any progress.
Just last week, Sutton Housing Partnership began the process of treating the mouldy inside walls, ceilings and floors of Louise’s flat but according to Louise they are still refusing to help replace her destroyed furniture.
The housing partnership has also allegedly rejected an application from Louise for a £200 grant to replace her mould-ridden bed, risking leaving her sleeping on the floor as they have now begun removing her ruined furniture.
Louise said: ‘The housing manager has sent multiple surveyors round who have all said the outside walls need repointing because the concrete is so damaged that you can push your fingers through it.
‘So it’s clear the mould is coming from the outside walls and I might be in the same situation again in no time – it’s just not good enough.
‘The contractors said I shouldn’t be in here but I have nowhere to go – the temporary accommodation the housing manager offered me didn’t even have a fridge and was flooded with dirty water.
‘I’m still on the couch in the living room while they work on the bedroom but once they move onto the living room and get rid of the couch I’ll be on the bedroom floor if I can’t get help to buy a new bed.
‘I can’t afford one myself because I’m on sickness benefits and my mum is a retired pensioner.
‘They can see how bad it is because they’re taking all my belongings away but still they’re so reluctant to do anything and won’t accept responsibility.
‘They’ve also refused to do anything about the garden which is just rotted decking destroyed by the mould, taking away my only chance to sit outside and have some fresh air.’
Steve Tucker, managing director of Sutton Housing Partnership, said: ‘Sutton Housing Partnership is committed to maintaining high standards of maintenance and repair across our properties and we carry out an average of 1,400 repairs every month.
‘We take the health and wellbeing of our residents very seriously and we will always uphold our duty of care towards our tenants as a responsible landlord, while also ensuring we comply with the Home Standard.
‘Since 2019 we have been working very closely with Miss Derrick on a range of reported repairs issues.
‘We have offered several options to remedy the works needed and have made special arrangements to accommodate her needs, some of which have led to significant delays in the works being completed.
‘We’re pleased that our repairs officers have been able to make significant progress on the work recently, with this phase set for completion this week.
‘We will continue to work carefully and sensitively to support Miss Derrick and find solutions that meet her housing, health and wellbeing needs.’
Louise, with the help of a friend, has set up a Go Fund Me page in the hopes of raising enough funds to replace her furniture destroyed by the mould.
She added: ‘It’s shocked me so much that I’ve been treated so badly and I don’t want it to happen to anyone else.
‘This neurological condition alone is like torture but add to that losing your entire home and living in this prison of mould with no fresh air – it’s horrific.’
MP for Carshalton and Wallington Elliot Colburn said he had been helping Louise since March and described the situation as ‘awful’.
‘I am disappointed in the lack of action taken by SHP to fully repair Louise’s flat to a habitable standard and replace the furniture which has been damaged by mould over the years,’ he said.
‘I am pleased to have secured a new bed and frame for Louise’s flat and I will continue to support my constituent until this situation is sorted.’
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