Mother goes through ‘hell’ in emergency accommodation in Eastbourne

A mother with a newborn baby said she went through hell in emergency accommodation in Eastbourne over Christmas.

Wednesday, 8th January 2020, 3:11 pm
Updated Wednesday, 8th January 2020, 3:21 pm
Dirty dining chairs, broken tiles, and mouldy, stained mattress at the property in Cornfield Road, Eastbourne
Dirty dining chairs, broken tiles, and mouldy, stained mattress at the property in Cornfield Road, Eastbourne

Holly Garnham said there was faeces on mattresses, mould everywhere, broken glass, and she had to huddle for warmth in bed with her four young children due to the freezing cold.

The 25-year-old single mum said, “It’s disgusting, why would they put a family in there? It was not fit for children.

“There’s only so much you can take. You have to go through hell to get help.”

Ms Garnham claims the mattresses were stained with faeces and urine SUS-200801-150423001

The property in Cornfield Road costed £70 a night of housing benefit and she said it also burnt through her electricity meter payments.

Holly – who has a 10-week-old, 20-month-old, and a five and seven-year-old – was placed in the precarious situation when she had to move out of her mother’s home due to their children clashing.

She was first moved into temporary accommodation in Jevington Gardens in early December, which she said was freezing cold, had storage heaters that didn’t work, and the walls were “weeping with water”.

The mother claims her children had to sleep with jackets on top of their pajamas to keep warm and she had to move a bed away from a wall to prevent it getting damp with mould.

A broken letter box at the property in Cornfield Road SUS-200801-150435001

Just over a week later Holly said she was delighted to be moved into the three bed place in Cornfield Road, thinking the “ordeal” was over – but was disappointed with what she found.

“It was disgusting conditions. There was broken glass everywhere, it smelled of cannabis. It wasn’t fit for a family at all,” she said.

“I checked the mattresses and was horrified at what I discovered. One covered in urine and mould, another covered in more urine and stank, another covered in pen, urine, poo and God knows what else.”

Other issues included dirty dining chairs, a broken letter box hanging off which she felt made the property insecure, and broken windows allowing the cold in.

A stained pillow at the Cornfield Road housing SUS-200801-150447001

Holly said, “We woke up and it was freezing cold and we couldn’t get electric or gas. We were trying to bundle into one bed to stay warm. The children just were not coping.

“My daughter was falling asleep on the way to school because we were so cold we weren’t getting a proper night’s sleep. It’s too much for a little girl to take.

“We woke up shivering freezing cold. I decided enough is enough and packed my kids and fled from the flat to a friend’s property to see out the rest of the night.”

Now, rather than stay in the property, the family has been split up and are currently staying at various friends and families’ homes.

Holly said, “I’m not prepared to go back to that and put my kids through that. I can’t have a newborn baby in a freezing cold flat.

“It’s everyone’s basic right to be warm, have a clean bed and safe accommodation. I’m shocked that the council doesn’t provide this.”

Responding to these concerns, a spokesperson for Eastbourne Borough Council said the authority is aware of the situation and has apologised to Holly.

They said, “We have taken steps to address the issues raised by Ms Garnham and have apologised to her.

“Our caseworker continues to support Ms Garnham and her four children in finding settled accommodation and we hope this can be achieved as soon as possible.”