Telan’s family had lived in their one-bed flat for almost three years. Before that, Kia and her son had lived in a privately rented two-bed house in Acomb.
A fulltime mum, she paid the rent out of benefits.RIGHT! Stop right there – no, she didn't.
WE paid. The general taxpayer. Those of us working and paying tax into the system, either with our own families, or childless.
Then, Kia said, the landlord decided to put the house up for sale. The asking price was £113,000.
“I didn't have that kind of money.”
Her tenancy agreement offered her no protection, because she was at the end of her one-year contract. The city council offered her accommodation at the one-bed flat in Chapelfields. Kia was told she could reapply for a larger property once her son reached the age of two. She did so.
But with almost 4,800 people on the authority’s housing waiting list – hundreds of them assessed as being a greater priority than Telan and her family – and with only 500 or so council properties becoming available every year, the wait dragged on.Ah, but Kia didn't see any need to wait, clearly! She wasn't letting the grass grow under her feet, no sir!
At first, when there were only her son and herself in the small flat, it wasn't too bad, Kia said.
But then her partner, Simon, moved in too – and Telan was born. There were four of them in a cramped flat.No. Not just four humans.
It was the damp and mould which bothered Kia most, however. The bedroom wall was wet with condensation, and covered with mould. Kia and Simon tried keeping the windows open, and cleaning and washing the walls with anti-fungal solution.
But the mould always came back. She complained repeatedly to the council, who sent a workman round to install humidity-controlled fans, which Kia says didn't help. The authority says it advised the family on how to reduce condensation.
It accepts that part of the problem was that there were four people and a dog living in a onebed flat./facepalm
Telan died at 9.43pm on October 6, 2012, at York Hospital, after suddenly being taken ill at the family’s one-bed council flat in Chapelfields. Shortly after feeding her from a bottle and putting her down in her cot, her mother heard her coughing.
She rushed through to find the little girl had stopped breathing. Telan was two days short of being 11 months old. …
Nobody knows yet why Telan died. An inquest has been opened and adjourned, while histology and toxicology tests are awaited.But while ‘nobody knows’ it seems everybody is willing to speculate and use this to their own ends.
Especially the grieving mother and the ‘poverty’ pressure groups.
“Personally, I think the conditions of the flat may have contributed to what happened,” she said.
City of York council does not accept that. The little girl’s death was a tragedy, said Steve Waddington, the authority’s assistant director for housing and community safety.
“It is very, very sad. But there is no evidence to suggest that the damp and conditions in the property have been an influencing factor in Telan’s death.”
Whatever the cause of the little girl’s death, her short life highlights the huge extremes of wealth and poverty that still continue to blight our society – even in a city as apparently prosperous as York.No. No, I'm sorry, but it doesn't.
What it does highlight is the incredibly bad life choices made by some people who have been raised from birth and conditioned to believe that there is no such thing as personal responsibility, or deferred gratification, or ‘living within your means’.
Someone else is always at fault for anything bad that might happen to you. You are never, ever to be held responsible.
Kia has now been offered a larger flat.
“It is too little, too late,” she said.Oh, don’t worry love, I'm sure you’ll soon fill it full of the fruit of your loins…
The comments, as you might expect, are filled with the usual responses, which all seem to separate out into typical groups.
There’s the barely-coherent comments from Kia’s peers, like her, self-absorbed, deluded and entitled:
roxywright says... Feels for kia and her family,Kia is an inspiration to other womenthey knew kia had a son so why put her in a one bedroom flat? But instead they insisted on dumping her in a one bed flat which was absolutely stupid of them.My thoughts are with kia and her family xxxxxxxxxxxxThere’s the ‘move over, grandad!’ mob, looking enviously at the elderly to move aside for the younger generation:
Re: above quote from Tracey Simpson-Laing; "Legislation coming into force in April 2013 could impact further those people living in overcrowded conditions, as households eligible for housing benefit in registered social housing will be expected to contribute more to their rent if their number of bedrooms exceeds new Department for Work and Pensions guidelines.”
Have I misunderstood something there? Surely this is for people who have too many rooms for their needs and will encourage people claiming housing benefit to move to a smaller home. Did I miss your point, I don`t see how that impacts on people in overcrowded conditions. If i`m being thick and havn`t read that correctly then will someone explain why it will impact on people who are overcrowded? However, people on housing benefit would almost surely need help with the costs relating to moving, have you considered that Tracey? Also, as I understand the new legislation, no one dares to mention asking anyone of pension age to pay extra for unused bedrooms to encourage them to move (even those who are eligible for housing benefit, which is what the criteria is), because they are scared of the public outcry I assume, but there are hundreds of them, just in York alone, in council houses that are way too big for them.There’s the ‘tax the bankers!’ mob, hoping that more can be squeezed out of the modern demon Golden Goose before it finally has enough and flies off:
What an indictment of our society in the 21st century! We can bail out banks and pour any amount of money into them, yet small innocent children have to live and then die in this type of inadequate housing. City of York Council has a duty to its residents of council properties to renovate and restore so that people can live in a healthy, damp free and warm environment. What a useless response in this case to send out workmen with fans! Shame on all those who oppose and obstruct the building of new affordable homes built to modern eco standards.Mmm. As Longrider points out, though, Kia’s dog would be the first thing to have to go in that scenario!
Then there’s the ‘we are all to blame!’ merchants:
Mr Happy says... 4:15pm Wed 21 Nov 12 It is tragic that in 2012, a young baby has to spend its entire life in a damp, mouldy home. Every child is born helpless. But every single child is precious and needs the help of all in society, whatever the wealth and status of their parents. Whatever the reasons behind baby Telan's tragic death, she was failed by the society we live in.And occasionally, one or two who ask the same questions I’m asking:
Daisy75 says... 11:37am Wed 21 Nov 12 This is a terrible tragedy, and an awful loss for the family. However, presumably she knew the size of the flat before she moved boyfriend in and had the baby. If the flat was in such poor condition, why did she bring another baby into the world until she had better housing? I appreciate she was hoping the additional boyfriend and baby would boost her up the housing list, and she didn't anticipate this terrible outcome, but it was obviously an unsuitable situation for a newborn. I'd also be interested to know if her partner has a job, or are they both living off the State?What a pity these comments are in the minority. I hope it doesn't mean that the attitudes are, too.
Or our society is doomed, isn't it?