A housing body has admitted it was ‘wrong’ to make ‘lifestyle assumptions’ after the death of a two-year-old boy who suffered prolonged exposure to mould.
Awaab Ishak died in December 2020 of a respiratory illness caused by mold in the one-bedroom housing association flat where he lived with his parents, Faisal Abdullah and Aisha Amin, in Rochdale, Greater Manchester .
On Saturday, Gareth Swarbrick was removed from his role as chief executive of Rochdale Boroughwide Housing (RBH), which owns the flat.
Awaab’s parents, originally from Sudan, had repeatedly complained about mould. They also believed their treatment was shaped by the fact that they were not from the UK.
In a statement on Tuesday, RBH said: “We made assumptions about the lifestyle and we accept that we were wrong.
“We will implement additional training throughout the organization.
“We abhor racism in all its forms and we know we have a responsibility to all of our communities.”
The housing association posted the update on Twitter a week after a coroner called Awaab’s inquest a ‘watershed moment’ and said it would ‘significantly speed up’ home inspections for moisture and mildew.
It read: “We want to start by saying again how sorry we are for the loss of Awaab.
“We know our words will not take away the pain felt by his family, nor immediately heal the pain and strength of feelings that are rightly felt in Rochdale and across the country.
“Our entire organization of caring and passionate colleagues is completely focused on making things better for our customers, the people of Rochdale and the wider community and industry.
“However, we know we were wrong.”
RBH said its priorities include appointing an experienced interim chief executive as soon as possible, urgently meeting with key stakeholders and sharing what it has learned about the health impact of humidity. , condensation and mold with the social housing sector.
Mr Swarbrick, who earned £170,000 in the year Awaab died, initially refused to quit his job at RBH.
He was removed from office by council last weekend, a day after Rochdale City Council requested that the housing stock be returned to the local authority.