Distraught mum of 4 hits out at being evicted while her daughter has GCSE exams stress

Eastfields estate house
The family lived on the 70s built Eastfields estate before being evicted on Wednesday (May 15) -Credit:Harrison Galliven

A single mum of four has been evicted from her Merton house, despite her calls for a reprieve from the council on the grounds of her son’s disability and daughter sitting GCSE exams. The family has now been forced to leave their home in the Eastfields estate due to the ‘imminent’ regeneration of the area.

The mum, who does not want to be named, has been living in temporary accommodation for the past 25 years since her husband left her. As a result, her three youngest children aged 25, 22, and 16 have lived in temporary accommodation across the capital for their whole lives.

The youngest daughter began her crucial GCSE exams on the day the family were evicted (Wednesday, May 15). The mum believes this disruption has been devastating for her and could have easily been prevented by a delay.

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Mitcham Eastfields house
The mother told the LDRS that her autistic son struggles to deal with change and often tries to self harm -Credit:Harrison Galliven

Speaking to the Local Democracy Reporting Service (LDRS), the mum said: “I just want to stay here until they can find somewhere permanent. At least let us stay here until her exams finish, permanence means stability for children.

“I have repeated my needs to them time and time again but they don’t listen. I’m really terrified and just want some more support from Merton Council.”

Despite her appeals to the council for a delay and consideration of her situation, the council insisted that no permanent properties were available for her and her family. The mum, a lifelong home-maker, was left to look after the children after her husband left the country and stopped supporting the family over a decade ago.

The mum is also the full-time carer for her eldest son, who has severe autism and is non-verbal. She pointed to a broken pane of glass, saying: “He gets angry and shouts any time there’s change. Sometimes he breaks things."

The family has lived as Clarion tenants at the address on Clay Lane in the Eastfields estate for the past seven years. She told the LDRS that during that time, the poor quality and cramped conditions had put a strain on her and her children’s physical and mental well-being. The mum herself had developed severe hypertension in the past few years.

Mitcham Eastfields bathroom
Damp and poor ventilation in the bathroom led to the family developing chesty coughs -Credit:Harrison Galliven

During a visit to the property the day before eviction, the LDRS found the house to be in a bad state of disrepair. Damp was the prevailing issue on the upper floors of the property, partly due to water damage caused by a build-up on the flat roof above.

Damp has collected in the upstairs bathroom and has caused the whole family to suffer from chesty coughs as a result. The mum believes the lack of proper ventilation in the bathroom has only added to the problem.

It is exactly because of these poor conditions Clarion intends to tear down and replace the estate as part of its £1 billion regeneration project. The council, along with Clarion Homes, has also included the nearby High Path and Ravensbury estates in this highly publicised project.

The family’s eviction by Clarion comes as part of an effort to empty the estate of residents ahead of its eventual demolition. While walking around the estate, it became clear that the process of moving residents out had begun in earnest. The courtyards were quiet and neighbouring gardens were strewn with rubbish and relics of family life.

Earlier this year, council leader Ross Garrod announced that ‘Phase One’ of the regeneration program had begun and ground had been broken. Garrod said: “Breaking ground at Eastfields is a significant moment for everyone living on the estate – marking a crucial step towards delivering the new, good quality homes this community deserves.”

Empty houses on the Eastfields estate
Many of the family's neighbours have since moved out of the Eastfields estate -Credit:Harrison Galliven

He added: “The regeneration of Eastfields, High Path, and Ravensbury estates is one of the biggest regeneration schemes in the borough’s history and will play an important role in addressing the national crisis in housing at a local level. Merton Council and Clarion share an ambition – to make sure that everyone is able to live in a safe, warm, and comfortable home – and we look forward to seeing that ambition realised.”

Despite this apparent progress, the mum told the LDRS: “The reason they gave us for eviction is demolition, but doesn’t seem to be starting any time soon. July would be the best time to leave, this would give Merton more time to find permanent properties.

“I don’t want any more temporary accommodation, but they keep saying they have no permanent properties to give but it doesn’t sound convincing.”

The eldest daughter Aisha, who lives on her own, feels the treatment of her mum at the hands of the council has been ‘inhumane’ considering her vulnerability.

Speaking to the LDRS she said: “My mother's request since the very start has been for a permanent housing solution for her and the children. But both parties continue to play an inhumane game of ping pong, not just with them, but with other residents.

"Court visits during our hearing revealed many families awaiting the same fate, and yet private residents are able to remain for up to another 10 years. Of course, during the time that people remain, and since my family's move-in date, no repairs have been made in the houses due to its 'imminent' regeneration.

"We have seen the reports across ITV and other media of families with children as young as newborns left in hotel after hotel, or even the streets, and we are truly fearing for the worst. Despite reassurance from solicitors and the court of not being left on the street, to us the thought of temporary accommodation is just as horrifying. How many more years of inferno can be endured?”

Ross Garrod at St Helier Hospital
Council leader Ross Garrod welcomed the start of work on 'Phase One' of the Eastfields estate regeneration in January -Credit:Merton Council

Since eviction, the family has accepted an offer of privately rented temporary accommodation in Mitcham. Despite this, the family believes the new accommodation will not be as suited to their needs and fears that the cycle of staying in temporary accommodation will continue.

When approached for comment, a Merton Council spokesperson said: “We have been working with the mother and her family since summer 2023 to find a new home for them. We are sorry they did not find any of the six properties offered to them suitable, but we are pleased they have now accepted our offer of temporary accommodation in Mitcham.

“We will continue to work with them to try to find a permanent home.”

Clarion was approached but refused to comment on this case.

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