Damp homes made our kids sick, say Washington family

Complaning about dampness in their homes at Whinfell, Albany, Washington which they believe to be causing health problems are Claire Winspear and  daughter Jennifer and Debra Frost.
Complaning about dampness in their homes at Whinfell, Albany, Washington which they believe to be causing health problems are Claire Winspear and daughter Jennifer and Debra Frost.
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A FAMILY told how their baby had to be rushed to hospital with a potentially deadly condition after branding their home a health hazard.

Dad Stephen Winspear, 30, said he raised concerns with housing chiefs about dampness in his rented house in Whinfell, Albany, in Washington, in the weeks leading up to his seven-month-old daughter Jennifer contracting bronchiolitis.

The tot, who was suffering from vomiting, high-temperatures and breathing difficulties, had to be given oxygen as well as medication during a week-long stay at Sunderland Royal Hospital.

“She was in a really bad way,” said Mr Winspear. “She couldn’t keep any food down, she had a temperature and wasn’t getting any sleep.

“The house is always freezing. You have to keep the heating on all the time and we’ve had a real problem with damp in her room.

“When we took her to hospital, the staff said there was a good chance the conditions contributed to her problem.

“Thankfully, she is okay now, but we’re just worried it could happen again.”

Mr Winspear and wife Claire, 26, have lived in the pre-fabricated terraced house with their four children for almost two years.

Neighbour Debra Frost, 40, said she and her three children have also been regularly struck down with illness.

Last year, her one-year-old son Liam spent a week in hospital and required steroid treatment after being diagnosed with a serious respiratory virus.

“We’ve all been ill at some point in the past year,” she said. “I’ve always been healthy myself and I’ve always had healthy children, but the condition of the house is making us all sick.

“The housing company said they had sorted out the problem, but we still get damp on the walls.”

Ian Porter, managing director of Gentoo Sunderland, said: “We are aware of a problem with loose floor boards in Mr Winspear’s property and to rectify this we need to lift the flooring. However, he has refused us access to do this.

“In regards to mould growth in the property, after an inspection, we have advised Mr Winspear that this is a result of condensation not damp. It is not uncommon to experience some condensation in your home during the winter months.

“There has been an issue with mould on the external timber and an inspector will be visiting the property to assess this further.

“There are no significant problems which justify moving the occupants and we are happy to complete the repair at Mr Winspear’s convenience. Should Mr Winspear wish, he is free to apply to be re-housed through our Choice Based Letting system.”

Mr Porter said Gentoo had recently completed repairs at Ms Frost’s property, which were a result of a leak from an adjoining property and no further dampness had been identified.