Preston woman with severe asthma and neurological disease claims floods in supported living flat could have 'knocked years' off her life

A young woman from Preston who suffers from debilitating Huntington's Disease and severe asthma says her life was put at risk when her supported living flat flooded last year.

Wednesday, 2nd June 2021, 3:45 pm

Hollie Johnstone, 23, had been living in a supported living block in August last year following a difficult few years living in a city centre apartment, where she claims she had money stolen from her and was regularly exposed to 'heroin addict neighbours'.

And after moving into what she thought would be a safer home and a fresh start in Leyland, her apartment began to flood due to what she claims was a hole in the ceiling.

Suffering day to day with severe asthma and Huntington's Disease, which is incurable, Hollie said that the damp and humid conditions in her flat were a risk to her health.

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Hollie, 23, claims the damp conditions in her flat gave her chest infections

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Recently, she said she was told by the My Space Housing company that they would not be covering the costs of the belongings that were damaged because she had been too unwell to supply them with a list of items.

The 23-year-old said: "The flat flooded back in August last year and it was really bad. They put dehumidifiers in there which did absolutely nothing because the water was coming in through a hole in the ceiling.

"The mould and damp just started to get worse and worse. After a few weeks, I ended up moving into my dad's house because it was just horrible living there. The carpets were drenched and there was mould growing all over the walls.

Pictures showed the extent of the damp

"I was told that I needed to write down a list of all the items that were damaged, but I have been really unwell and have been battling with a kidney infection recently so just haven't been able to do it and now they have told me that they won't be paying for it because I took too long."

Hollie claims that just a few weeks after she had temporarily moved out, in September of last year, that housing officers told her it was safe to come back to live in the apartment.

But on her return, she said it was "worse than before", with mould scaling the skirting boards, the walls and her furniture which was damaged due to the water.

This was a move that could've "put her life at risk", she claims.

Mould formed on her skirting boards in the Leyland apartment

She added: "I came back and my kitchen, lounge and bedroom had all been flooded. The carpets were ruined and everything was just covered in mould, it was awful.

"The staff knew that I was suffering from severe asthma and a weak immune system, so my life was put at risk by telling me it was safe to come back and live there when it wasn't.

"I could barely breathe in there because of all the damp. It was giving me chest infections and panic attacks which could've knocked years off my life which is already going to be shorter because of my condition.

"I kept pointing out the mould and damp, which was also a fire hazard because of the electricals but was repeatedly told it was fine to live there. I am now being told that I should've had contents insurance to protect my belongings.

She claims that the My Space housing company have still not apologised for her ordeal

"I just kept being lied to. I was told that it would be fixed and it wasn't. A lot of my own furniture I brought in was damaged but they can be replaced. Sentimental things like my mum's funeral book mean so much to me and they are ruined."

Hollie, who lost her mum to Huntington's disease, has now been told her life expectancy will be between 15 and 20 years as she continues to suffer from the debilitating illness.

The hereditary condition is neurological, stopping parts of the brain from working and causing difficulty performing day to day activities such as walking and eating.

Following meetings with the housing officers at My Space Housing, Hollie claims they failed to apologise for the stress the flooding has caused her and added: "They had a duty of care over me and totally failed."

When the Post contacted My Space supported living, they said they had made repeated efforts to contact Hollie for a list of items damaged but still didn't receive it.

A spokesperson said: "We are aware of the flooding incident and indeed helped Hollie move most of her belongings to an upstairs property for safekeeping.

Hollie claims her mum's funeral booklet was left water damaged by the flood

"Working with her care provider, we agreed that any items damaged and in need of replacement would be considered for compensation.

"Sadly, despite repeated requests, we have not been provided with a list so that we can honour this agreement."

My Space's comment did not respond to the Post's questions about the mould in Hollie's flat and the impact on her health with her current conditions.

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