Mother traumatised by block fire set to be homeless

1:20pm Monday 12th November 2012

By Daniel Binns

A SINGLE mum traumatised by a fire at her tower block is set to be made homeless after officials said they would only rehouse her in another high rise building.

Chelsea Hull, 21, was forced to climb out of a 13th floor window onto a balcony with her one-year-old daughter Alissa Donovan to escape the blaze at Fred Wigg tower in Leytonstone last December.

She was also pregnant at the time but subsequently lost the baby, and believes the stress of the ordeal may be to blame.

Ms Hull has spent the last year living in temporary accommodation, and was distraught in the summer when housing officials said she had to move back to her old flat.

When she confronted the council's housing body Ascham Homes about the trauma she had suffered they agreed not to rehouse her at the block.

But officials now say they can only offer her a home in the Northwood tower block in Walthamstow's Wood Street.

"The fire was terrifying and for a long time I found it very difficult to even talk about it," said Ms Hull.

"It was so upsetting trying to escape with a small child, when we didn't know what was going on. There were no communal fire alarms and the fire door on my floor wouldn't open. We had to climb down and then went down a different staircase instead.

"Ascham Homes said they understood when I told them I didn't want to move back in there.

"But it's ridiculous they want me to go somewhere which is almost the same."

A spokeswoman for Ascham Homes said there was huge demand for housing and said they would not give Ms Hull special treatment because of the fire.

She said: "We made Ms Hull an offer of a two bedroom flat in a block...unfortunately, Ms Hull turned the offer down saying that she only wanted a house despite all of our previous discussions.

"We gave her an extended deadline to sign up for the tenancy, but she refused.

"Regrettably, Ms Hull has now missed out on the offer and will be now be making her own housing arrangements privately."

Ms Hull denied the claim and said she had explicitly told Ascham Homes she would be happy to live in a one-bedroom flat anywhere, as long as it was not a high rise.

Leyton and Wanstead MP John Cryer has backed Ms Hull's calls.

He said: "I was sorry to learn of the problems she has been experiencing with Ascham Homes.

"I understand that Ascham Homes’ Disability Panel accepted that Ms Hull had sustained mental trauma as a consequence of the fire and that she should not be returned to Fred Wigg Tower or placed in a tower block.

"I have therefore  made urgent representation to the Chief Executive at Ascham Homes and asked that she be offered alternative non-high rise accommodation.”

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