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Family of tragic Awaab Ishak say they felt ‘worthless’ by scale of killer mould

Awaab Ishak’s family have spoken of the ‘gruelling’ torture they have felt since the toddler’s untimely death.

The two-year-old died in December 2020 from a respiratory condition caused by mould in the one-bedroom flat where he lived with his parents in Rochdale.

Awaab’s parents had previously complained to Rochdale Boroughwide Housing (RBH) about the condition of the home, an inquest at Rochdale Coroner’s Court was told.

The family has now spoken of the feeling of being ‘trapped’ in the flat and ‘fearful’ of the mould slowly harming their son.

A statement was read outside the court on behalf of Awaab’s father Faisal Abdullah.

He came to the UK from Sudan as an asylum seeker in 2015 and his wife Aisha Amin joined him in 2018.

The statement said: ‘The past two years have been gruelling.

‘When Awaab died, our lives changed forever. Today, two years on, the coroner has found that our little boy’s prolonged exposure to mould led entirely to his death.

Undated family handout photo issued by Farleys Solicitors of two-year-old Awaab Ishak who died in December 2020. The death of the toddler should be a
Awaab Ishak died just over a week after his second birthday (Picture: PA)

‘We still cannot get our head around the fact that despite all of the complaints we made to RBH, in addition to the information RBH received from an NHS member of staff expressing their concern for Awaab due to mould at the property, RBH did absolutely nothing to rectify the severe mould in our property.

‘We cannot tell you how many health professionals we’ve cried in front and RBH staff we have pleaded to expressing concern for the conditions ourselves and Awaab have been living in.

‘We shouted out as loudly as we could, but despite making all of those efforts, every night we would be coming back to the same problem. Nothing was changing.’

Awaab would struggle with coughing fits for days and was unable to leave the flat due to his poor health.

A two-year-old boy had a continuous cough and couldn't breathe through his nose in the final weeks of his life at a 'disgusting' flat with damp and mould, an inquest heard. Awaab Ishak died just over a week after his second birthday. Shocking images of the damp and mould taken days after the tragedy were released during an inquest at Rochdale Coroners' Court today (4 November). Caption: Damp and mould inside the home of Awaab Ishak days after his death.
The shocking mould within the family’s flat (Picture: MEN Media)

This in turn increased his exposure to the mould, his family said.

The statement continued: ‘We have no doubt at all that we were treated this way because we are not from the country and less aware of how the systems in the UK work.

‘RBH we have a message for you – stop discriminating, stop being racist, stop providing unfair treatment to people coming from abroad who are refugees or asylum seekers, stop housing people in homes you know are unfit for human habitation.’

RBH chief executive Gareth Swarbrick also released a statement following today’s conclusion of Awaab’s inquest.

Awaab Ishak's father Faisal Abdullah, counsel for the family Christian Weaver, solicitor Kelly Darlington and Awaab's mother Aisha Amin (second right) outside Rochdale Coroner's Court following the conclusion of an inquest which found Awaab died from prolonged exposure to mould. Picture date: Tuesday November 15, 2022.
Awaab Ishak’s father Faisal Abdullah, counsel for the family Christian Weaver, solicitor Kelly Darlington and Awaab’s mother Aisha Amin (second right) outside Rochdale Coroner’s Court (Picture: PA)

He said the two-year-old’s death acted as a ‘wake-up call’ for the wider housing, social care and health sectors.

Mr Swarbrick said in a statement: ‘I am truly devastated about Awaab’s death and the things we got wrong. We know that nothing we can say will bring Awaab back or be of any consolation to his family. We have and will continue to learn hard lessons from this.

‘We didn’t recognise the level of risk to a little boy’s health from the mould in the family’s home. We allowed a legal disrepair process, widely used in the housing sector, to get in the way of promptly tackling the mould.

‘We must make sure this can never happen again. Awaab’s death needs to be a wake-up call for everyone in housing, social care and health.

A two-year-old boy had a continuous cough and couldn't breathe through his nose in the final weeks of his life at a 'disgusting' flat with damp and mould, an inquest heard. Awaab Ishak died just over a week after his second birthday. Shocking images of the damp and mould taken days after the tragedy were released during an inquest at Rochdale Coroners' Court today (4 November).
Awaab’s family had previously made complaints about the amount of mould in the kitchen and bathroom of their home (Picture: MEN Media)

‘We will take responsibility for sharing what we have learnt about the impact to health of damp, condensation and mould with the social housing sector and beyond.

‘We support the coroner and Housing Ombudsman’s call for the government’s Decent Homes Standard to be strengthened to include damp and mould, and the coroner’s decision to write to the Ministers of Housing and Health on this.

‘The coroner recognised the changes we have made to our procedures, IT, communications and training.’

He added: ‘We note the coroner’s words that she was impressed with the learning RBH has taken and desire to share with others.

‘As a result, she will not be issuing us with a Prevention of Future of Deaths Report. We agree with the coroner that the tragic death of Awaab will be and should be a defining moment for the housing sector.’

Get in touch with our news team by emailing us at webnews@metro.co.uk.

For more stories like this, check our news page.

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