Louise Derrick now a series of serious health conditions (Picture: Kennedy News and Media)
A former salon manager says an allergic reaction to a mould infestation that went untreated in her council flat for three years made her look like an ‘acid attack victim’.
Louise Derrick says she is ‘lucky to be alive’ following the incident and blames the unfixed mould issues for worsening a series of devastating health issues, including a condition that means she cannot leave the house.
She said she reported the ‘jet black’ mould to Sutton Housing Partnership (SHP) three years ago but claims nothing was done until last week, leaving it to build up throughout her entire home.
Louise, 42, now describes her house as ‘absolute hell’.
SHP say planned work was cancelled by Louise twice and claim they have done ‘everything possible’ to help her.
Pictures show her face so swollen that her eyes are almost closed, with painful, red swelling after the reaction.
Images also show thick black mould rotting the wallpaper in her Wallington home.
Ms Derrick says the swelling was caused by mould in her home (Picture: Kennedy News and Media)
She previously worked as a salon boss (Picture: Kennedy News and Media)
Louise, who has chronic asthma, was forced to quit her job as a salon manager after developing Functional Neurological Disorder (FND), which leaves her with very little mobility and constant seizures – meaning she is unable to leave her home.
That was before the mould problem arose, but she claims nurses told her that her allergic reaction was brought on by mould.
Louise says efforts to tackle the mould only began on Monday, June 14 – which she claims was too late as it has already destroyed many of her possessions.
She explained: ‘I found out I was severely allergic to the mould while trying to clean and save my furniture – my eyes and throat closed up until I couldn’t see or breathe.
‘My whole face and body burnt and blistered, even inside my eyelids and mouth, which took almost four weeks to heal and the blisters have left scars on my skin. The pain was horrific.
The mould in her property has rotted the wallpaper (Picture: Kennedy News and Media)
‘I almost died, it was really scary. I had to have three injections of adrenaline in my leg to save my life.
‘I couldn’t see for days because my face was so swollen but when I could it was so upsetting – I looked like someone had thrown acid in my face.’
She added that the mould destroyed her ‘entire home’ and that she has ‘lost absolutely everything’, including some of her recently deceased father’s possessions.
‘I used to have a beautiful bedroom but the mould took over my whole bed and now I’m on the mouldy sofa with throws over me to try and stop me breathing too much in.’
Louise said she repeatedly contacted her landlord at SHP begging them to deal with it.
She says the reaction nearly killed her (Picture: Kennedy News and Media)
She also claims that despite sending photos of the mould and letters from her doctor and MP urging them to take action, it has taken four months of campaigning from her local MP Elliot Colburn to make any progress.
The Carshalton and Wallington representative said he had been helping Louise since March and declared himself ‘disappointed in the lack of action taken by SHP to fully repair Louise’s flat to a habitable standard’.
Mr Colburn also called on them to replace the furniture damaged by mould and said he would continue to support her ‘until this situation is sorted.’
The housing partnership has also allegedly rejected an application from Louise for a £200 grant to replace her mould-ridden bed.
Louise said SHP offered temporary accommodation that did not have a fridge and was flooded with dirty water.
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She added that her garden only has rotten decking destroyed by mould – taking away her only chance to sit outside and get some fresh air.
Steve Tucker, SHP’s managing director, said: ‘Sutton Housing Partnership has been working very closely with Miss Derrick to resolve her repairs issues.
‘Unfortunately, planned works were cancelled by her on three separate occasions – twice in 2019 and once in 2020 – which has led to the delay.
‘Sutton Housing Partnership has gone to great lengths to accommodate Miss Derrick’s anxieties including the support from a dedicated female surveyor to help her in preparation for and throughout the works.
‘We have also offered her temporary accommodation while the works were being carried out, which she declined.’
He continued: ‘We believe we have done everything possible to accommodate Miss Derrick and the length of time it has taken to complete the work has been due to her unwillingness to permit access to our contractors.
‘We are pleased that we have recently been able to make progress with the works and will continue to support Miss Derrick to find solutions that meet her housing, health and wellbeing needs.’
Her story is far from unusual, with various tenants facing major issues from mould across the country – and a number of them revealing their plight to Metro.co.uk earlier this year.
Louise has set up a Go Fund Me in an effort to replace her furniture. For more information or to donate, click here.
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