Child slept on council building floor after staff 'went home' leaving homeless family 'locked' inside for 4 hours

A family looking for help from the council claim they were abandoned and "locked" inside a civic centre - with one child forced to sleep under a desk. Tiffany Powell, 26, and partner Steven Bartlett, 29, were stranded for four hours after they say staff left them inside and locked the doors. The couple documented their ordeal inside Harrow Council's Civic Centre, Greater London, with their children Elliot, five, and Vanessa, two, and posted it online. The family say they were evicted from their rented home on January 25, after complaining about "mould, dampness, leaks, water in electrics and multiple fire hazards." Tiffany said: "My daughter and I arrived at the Civic Centre at 1 pm after bailiffs had taken the keys to our home. "My partner then collected my son from school and they also joined us at the Civic Centre. "We were there asking for help with our current situation, but, when it reached 5 pm the staff we were relying on for help just walked out, locked the door and went home leaving us trapped for four hours all on our own." Video footage shows the reception area of the building empty, with the doors locked, and the family stranded with no food while Elliot napped under a desk and Vanessa in the pram. "It resulted in our children sleeping under the desk and the buggy was my son sat on the floor as there was nowhere else for him to sit and he was tired from a long day at school," Tiffany added. "Our daughter fell asleep in her buggy. There was no place for a bed, so this was the best option available at the time as we did not want both of our children sleeping on the floor. "We did not want our son on the floor but had nothing, not even a seat to offer him due to a lack of care about our situation from Harrow Council staff. "This floor is walked upon by many people during the day walking from who knows where - and who knows what kinds of germs on the soles of their shoes." Emergency accommodation was eventually found for the family that night at around 9 pm, after eight hours at the Civic Centre, four of them being 'locked' inside. Once housing officers were able to facilitate the emergency accommodation at a Travelodge with a bed and breakfast, a security guard arrived to let them out. After spending the night in the emergency accommodation, the family returned to the Civic Centre in the morning and were able to secure another night in a hotel. Tiffany is a stay-at-home mother looking after both kids and Steven has been signed off from work due to injury. The pair were renting from a private landlord who, they say, didn't maintain the property adequately, citing "mould, dampness, leaks, water in electrics and multiple fire hazards." Tiffany said she was evicted for raising concerns over the state of the home, which was followed by an unaffordable rent increase. The family are trying to secure permanent accommodation in the local area, but have been offered a place in Northampton, East Midlands, over 50 miles away. Tiffany added: "Harrow council have done nothing apart from making unrealistic offers to premises in Northampton taking my son and daughter away from their poorly father, and taking my son away from his educational support, which has already diagnosed him with anxiety and made progress with it." The family have become victims of the cost of living crisis with the soaring inflation and increase on the price for everyday items. She added: "I am struggling now to rent privately due to the current inflation. "There is also the issue I have faced where I've been forced to replace many items that were still brand new due to mould and dampness where I had to dispose of them or risk my child's health." Tiffany is now looking for work to help support and maintain the family's income and keep them afloat during this period, while they look for a new home. The family are currently staying at Steven's parents home, while they figure out how to proceed. Tiffany added: "My immediate plans are to secure a property in the local Borough Council or private rent and have a secure home for my children where they can grow up free from the negative experiences they have currently undergone." Harrow Council Press Office has stated that the doors were not locked, and security officers were in the vicinity. They council explained the family were not able to leave the centre as the automation on the security was off outside of office hours. A spokesperson said: "We can confirm the family were not locked inside the Civic Centre. "While the video appears to show this, the family were freely able to leave and were being supported by our security team while housing officers were helping find them suitable emergency accommodation. "Officers are continuing to support the family during this stressful time. “Later this month we will be closing the Civic Centre and opening a new customer centre at 6 Gayton Road for people at risk of homelessness or with concerns about vulnerable residents. "This will help us improve customer experience.”