Wandsworth blasted by mums for ‘depressing’ state of temporary lodgings

Charlotte Lillywhite, Local Democracy Reporter

Mums in cramped temporary accommodation in Balham have said they are living with young children in ‘disgusting’ conditions and feel forgotten by the council.

Families at Carnie Lodge, Manville Road, live in one room with a separate toilet and share bathrooms with other residents, which do not all have locks, while there are no laundry facilities.

Among those voicing complaints is Louisa Jenkins, 32, who has gone back and forth between the block and her mum’s home in Battersea to shower and wash clothes since moving in while pregnant in October last year.

Her son is now more than a month old and they have never used the shared bathroom on their floor as she said it was “disgusting”.

She said: “You don’t know how long they’re going to keep you here for. They said to me I could be here up to a year, but I’ve spoken to other people and they’ve been here a lot longer. It’s not right when you’ve got a child to be in something like this. You need your own bathroom.”

Another 34-year-old mum, who wished to remain anonymous, said residents “feel forgotten” in Carnie Lodge. She has lived in the block since 2022 with her 18-month-old son and said one of the two bathrooms on her floor does not have a lock. She has to carry a big bag of clothes to family in Battersea to wash them as she can’t afford to use a laundrette.

The mum said: “It’s better than being homeless, obviously, but there’s just some things I think that the council just forget about. It’s like you are forgotten.

“There’s no lock on the bathroom door and we have to share with everybody. It’s like it’s been pulled off. We’ve had people squatting in the store rooms, the fire brigade had to come because they were injecting or something and they let off the [smoke alarm].”

She added: “People bring their friends to visit, which is fine – I do as well – but even taking my son out of the house to go to the bathroom – I have to go out like this and come back in a towel. I don’t feel very comfortable.”

She never leaves her son alone as she is worried the windows in their room are not bolted securely enough. She said: “I could never go to the toilet and leave him in here because of the windows. He could climb and that’s it, he’s gone.”

Peace Ofure has lived in Carnie Lodge with her baby daughter since January and slammed the shared bathrooms as unhygienic. She said: “It is unpleasant and sometimes it’s not safe because I have to leave my daughter on her own inside to go quickly have a shower, and by the time I come back she’s crying.

“The kitchen is not big enough. That’s just not really what a modern child should be living in. It’s just for a single [person] – just me, that’s fine. For me and the baby, I have to sterilise her bottles – there isn’t enough space to do all of that.”

Concerns were raised about conditions at Carnie Lodge at the council’s housing committee on January 23. Rhiannon Hughes, from South West London Law Centres, said: “Mums have reported new cases of depression since being placed there.

“Mums living in these conditions for many years with no other options and not knowing when a better housing solution will become available to them is causing anxiety and feelings of hopelessness.”

Labour councillor Aydin Dikerdem, cabinet member for housing, said he would visit with officers to speak with residents and see what improvements could be made.

Natasha Waugh, 35, has lived in Carnie Lodge for more than a year and said laundry facilities and communal space would improve it.

Ms Waugh said: “I’m grateful for being here, but there are a lot of things that need to change. The conditions could be a lot better. If they had a common room or something where you could at least take your children out. Being in a room by yourself with a child… it can be very lonely.”

A Wandsworth council spokesman said: “Following the deputation to the last housing committee, the council is committed to reviewing and where possible improving conditions at this scheme and elsewhere.

“While we don’t recognise all of the issues highlighted in the comments made, from our regular visits and inspections, a joint visit with residents and colleagues from South West London Law Centres has been arranged for next month to explore any problems and how they can be remedied.”

Pictured top: Louisa Jenkins, at Carnie Lodge, Balham (Picture: Facundo Arrizabalaga/MyLondon)

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