Cricklewood mum and two kids 'trapped' in one-bed flat
Simon Allin Local Democracy Reporter
- Credit: Submitted by Ashleigh Squire
A mum says she feels “trapped” in her flat after an accident and operation left her unable to carry her young children up and down the block’s stairs.
Ashleigh Squire says she is “desperate” to move from the “unsuitable” one-bedroom flat in Handley Grove, Cricklewood, but Barnet Council’s housing arm Barnet Homes has not offered her new accommodation.
The mother-of-two also says the flat is too small for her family and is affected by damp and mould, which she believes is linked to a leak in the roof in the communal hallway that was not fixed properly.
Ashleigh claims she was offered temporary accommodation and told by a housing officer that if she accepted, she and her family could be housed anywhere in the UK, including in a hostel. She was told she would likely lose her current home because she would be unable to pay the rent. Barnet Homes denies these claims and says its investigation into Ashleigh’s homelessness application is “ongoing”.
“I’m trapped here,” Ashleigh said. “I can’t get outside the flat because I can’t carry my 15-month-old and newborn downstairs.
“It’s not good as we can’t go out to get fresh air, and having a toddler stuck inside 24 hours a day is not good.”
Ashleigh says she is still recovering from a caesarean as well as a fall while pregnant that left her struggling with ongoing health issues.
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But with no lift access to her second-floor flat, she says she cannot carry her children up and down the stairs, which recently led to her youngest missing a vaccine appointment.
Ashleigh added that she is unable to leave her baby buggy in the communal area downstairs due to health and safety reasons, but cannot carry it up to her flat.
She first contacted Barnet Homes in September. Since then, she says her GP and social workers have sent evidence to the council’s housing arm. But, despite this, she claims she was told that it was issuing the “not homeless” decision.
As a temporary measure, Ashleigh said she went to stay with her mother in Luton, but her mum told Barnet Homes she could not remain there for long because of the family’s circumstances.
As well as the access issues, Ashleigh says her flat, which is managed by housing association Network Homes, has issues with “damp and recurring mould”.
She said that in December last year, the ceiling in the hallway “collapsed and flooded every time it rained”. “They have partially fixed the roof,” Ashleigh said. “But they have not completed the work.” She added that a plastic drape and a tube had been used to try to fix the roof but water still leaked in, and tenants had continued to complain about the problem.
Ashleigh said she was “desperate to move” from the flat for the sake of her mental and physical health. She added: “I no longer know what to do or who to receive help from."
A Network Homes spokesperson said: “Our surveyor has met with the resident and has inspected the affected areas in their home and communal space. Next, we’ll be erecting scaffolding so we can carry out further investigations on the roof to determine what repairs might be needed so we can get these carried out as soon as we can.”
Barnet Homes stated in a response that it had not formally made Ashleigh an offer of temporary accommodation and “would not offer a woman with two children a room that they would have to share”. The statement added: “Furthermore, we would not offer any of our customers a room that would be shared with another person not included on their application.”
However, it said the option of temporary accommodation had been discussed with Ashleigh but was declined, and this came after a medical assessment “confirmed that Ms Squire should be considered for interim accommodation whilst she recovers from her recent birth”.
Barnet Homes said it would be willing to re-offer temporary accommodation and denied saying Ashleigh would lose her housing association property if she accepted.
The council housing arm also added that it had taken measurements and her flat was “not considered to be unsuitable for overcrowding purposes”.
It said it was “doing everything possible to conclude [Ashleigh’s] homelessness application and appreciate[s] that this is a challenging time for her given the recent arrival of her newborn child and the issues highlighted”.