Hounslow Council Apologises to Ukrainian Refugee Placed in Mouldy Flat

Olena had to share a bed with a stranger

Olena was grateful to be housed but concerned about impact on her health. Picture: BBC

Hounslow Council has issued an apology to a Ukrainian refugee after a BBC report exposed that she had been placed in unsuitable accommodation.

Olena, who is from south-east Ukraine, one of the areas worst hit by Putin’s invasion of her country, had initially had a sponsor in this country who was paying for her to stay in a hotel.

When this arrangement ended because the sponsor couldn’t afford to keep paying for the room, she had to go to the council to avoid becoming homeless.

They placed her in accommodation with a private landlord telling her that she might have to share a room but would be given a separate bed.

In the event she was required to sleep in the same bed as another Ukrainian women who she had never met before. The housing provided was damp with visible mould and a large hole in one of the walls.

She made contact with the council to raise concerns but she says they ignored her calls.

A friend of Olena’s, Timothy R Andrews, raised the matter with the council, but even though it was acknowledged the accommodation was not suitable, the council did not move Olena.

Olena said, “I’m not actually asking for any luxury apartment. Just some refurbishment or simple improvement of living conditions.

“I’m very grateful to all those who managed to find this accommodation for use even with such conditions. But it is harmful to our health.”

After the BBC reporters took up the issue the council made an unannounced inspection of the accommodation and immediately rehoused Olena.

Councillor Sue Sampson, cabinet member for housing management and homelessness, said, “We were extremely concerned to hear about the living conditions and, after carrying out an unannounced inspection, immediately moved Olena to different accommodation.

"We will be working with an interpreter to help us talk to Olena about her longer-term housing. We know this has been very frustrating and we are sorry for any distress caused."

About 13,500 refugees from Ukraine have remained in London since the Russian invasion began, according to UK government figures.

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November 6, 2022