It has been reported across the media this week, there is a shortage of houses across the country and an even bigger shortage of affordable houses which impacts on a large part of society, mainly those with little other choice. With homeless figures in Birmingham increasing by almost 20% in recent months, and winter upon us, it is imperative that people can access good quality, safe and affordable housing when they need it most.
Many of our clients are referred with housing issues, in fact over the last year over 40% of our pregnant women have came to us needing help with their housing situation and this number looks set to grow further.
Natsenet, a client originally from East Africa came to Gateway as she needed support with her English skills and was referred to ESOL classes in the local area. What soon became apparent however was how desperate Natsenet’s living situation was. Although she was lucky enough to have a one bedroom place of her own, the flat was full of mildew and damp and completely unsuitable for a mum to be as can be seen in the below pictures.
Natsanet’s problem with damp was so bad, paint and plaster (and the dust) were peeling from the wall
After contacting her housing officer, Natsanet was told that they were unable to help, with them blaming her for somehow causing the damp (!). Despite continually trying to get the help she needed, Natsanet was still no closer to getting the repairs she needed. After more continuous effort and rejection, trying to get some support through her housing officer, Natsanet turned to her Pregnancy Outreach Worker, Maria Hesson who called and called on her behalf, making the most of her experience in dealing with these organisations and trying to take some of the pressure off Natsetnet at such an important time in her pregnancy.
After many, many phone calls and lots of excuses, Maria managed to get hold of someone at the housing association and was able to tell them all about the situation, even showing them the pictures of the squalid conditions that this vulnerable lady was living in. Thankfully, they were happy to help, following the intervention from Maria, and they agreed to repair Natsanet’s house and remove the damp and mildew, even paying for Natsenet to stop in a hotel whilst the work was being carried out.
Natsanet, who has now given birth to a beautiful baby is delighted with her home now and feels that she can begin a new life with her child, something that she puts down to the help given to her from Maria, who received a text message from Natsanet a few weeks later, thanking her for all of her help.