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Mum-of-seven in tears as she crams kids into makeshift beds in tiny council flat

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A mum and her seven children are living in a flat so cramped they have to make beds on the living room floor each night.

The family of eight “live on top of each other” in the damp-ridden, mould-infested, one-bedroom flat in Oldham, Greater Manchester.

Three of Cheryl Shaw’s seven little ones are forced to build their beds on the living room floor each night, only to clear them every morning so they have room to sleep.

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The family of eight claims that they have complained several times but no one has ever come out to inspect the issues – pushing the mum to breaking point.

Cheryl adds that she fears for her children's safety and health and is now begging the council to give them more space.

Speaking to the MEN, the mum said: “I can't live like this much longer, I'm in tears every day.

“The children hate the living situation. But I feel like I'm banging my head against a brick wall."

Cheryl was originally assigned the flat in June 2020 when she was pregnant with her daughter Laila – now age two.

The flat was intended for only those two but due to extenuating circumstances, the mum was forced to move in her other children in December.

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Now Lacey, 10, Corey, 14, Oakley, 6, Colton, 9, Skylar, 8, Laila, 2, Leah, 15, and Cheryl, 38, all share two rooms, with Laila, Oakley, and Colton sleeping on the living room floor with Cheryl.

"I try to make it comfy," she said. "I put thick blankets and pillows down. But they need proper beds."

The mum and her social worker have begged the council to give the family more space but their pleas have been rejected.

Oldham Council told the publication they are working with FCHO to find Cheryl more suitable temporary accommodation, but 106 households are currently on the waiting list for a five-bed property in the borough.

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Adding that no five-bed socially rented properties have been available in the area since July 2021.

The mum claims she has been advised to move to another area in the hope of getting accommodation faster but does not want to leave her family and support network.

She also claims she has been advised to rent privately but says most landlords refuse her due to her children or they require a guarantor who owns a home – which she can’t do.

A First Choice Homes Oldham spokesperson said: “We are unable to comment about an individual tenant because of our commitment to protecting confidentiality and our obligations under data protection law.

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“That said, when information is brought to our attention, we review that internally and act swiftly to address any shortfall in services including any report of damp and mould which we prioritise immediately.

“We work in partnership with Oldham Council who contractually manage the allocation of our vacant properties in the borough.

“Those in housing need can apply to the Housing Register to bid for all social housing properties that are available within Oldham, including those properties managed by other housing associations.

“We would encourage anyone seeking to be re-housed in Oldham to contact Oldham Council to ensure they have the correct support and guidance to find suitable accommodation.

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“We are making our contribution to addressing the chronic shortage of social housing. Last year we built 137 new homes, and we are on target to build 188 this year, including larger family homes.

“We are committed to providing homes that are safe and fit for purpose and would encourage any of our customers experiencing any issues to contact us as soon as possible so we can work together to resolve them.”

An Oldham Council spokesperson: “We’ve been made aware of this particular case and we are working with First Choice Homes to support them in finding a temporary housing solution which meets the residents current needs.

“Unfortunately, the housing crisis means we cannot always guarantee there is a sufficient number of houses available to bid on, in particular those with a higher number of bedrooms, as these homes are in very high demand and rarely become available.

“But no one should have to live in substandard housing no matter the circumstances, we’ll be working with FCHO to correct this issue as soon as possible.”

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