Council leader vows to visit ‘disgusting’ Ilford hostel
PUBLISHED: 15:54 26 February 2016 | UPDATED: 15:56 26 February 2016
Homeless tenants have spoken of “disgusting” conditions at a hostel.
Residents at Hyleford, Boundary Close, Ilford, claimed there was overcrowding, a lack of disabled access and mice infestation at the temporary accommodation complex.
People complained of faeces on toilet seats, used tampons in bathrooms and cockroaches.
They spoke about “prison-like” rules implemented by staff, which include what times they can stay in communal living areas, what times they are “confined” to their rooms, and when they are allowed visitors.
One mum, who asked not to be named, claimed staff told her if she spoke to the media she could risk losing her place.
“I’m waking up distraught, it’s making me depressed. It’s just like prison, but worse,” she said. “The staff are very involved in our lives, people here live like animals.”
Another parent, whose autistic six-year-old daughter uses a wheelchair, said she paid for a hotel room once a week to bathe her daughter as the hostel did not meet her needs.
The mum said she was meant to be there for three to six months but has been there for more than a year and three months.
“It’s like a prison,” she said.
Reporter escorted off premises
I was refused entry to the council-run homeless hostel despite being invited in by residents concerned by living conditions, writes Ajay Nair.
Staff at Hyleford, Boundary Close, Ilford, escorted me out of the building and I was told to stop talking to residents outside.
A council spokeswoman said: “All non-residents including council staff must sign in and out of the hostel for health and safety reasons. For security reasons there are certain rules regarding visits to hostels.
“Guests are only allowed in the communal areas at specified times and must be signed in by hostel support staff.”
“We get told what time we have to sleep, we’re confined to our rooms, we can’t go to the kitchen after 11pm.
“My daughter is wheelchair-bound she has about three meters to move around in – we’re confined to a box.”
Waleed Butt, 52, whose wife and three children live at Hyleford, said the hostel was a “shame on the borough”, claiming there were up to 15 people living in one room.
His daughter Wajeeha, 16, added: “It’s disgusting – it’s shocking to see how people here live.”
Council leader Cllr Jas Athwal, who said long-term solutions needed to be found, vowed to visit residents to see conditions himself.
He said: “I have organised to meet them. i want to see for myself and I want to reassure the residents.
“I want to ensure that they can get the service that they deserve.”
A council spokeswoman insisted there were daily cleaners and fortnightly pest control inspections.
She said communal areas were vacated at 11pm due to the number of young children there, and the kitchen was not closed at night.
She also said the hostel had wheelchair access, with one adapted shower and toilet, and confirmed there was one “rarely used” room for a family of 12.
As for alleged threats to residents about speaking to the press, she was “assured” by staff that was not the case.
“This is simply not true,” she said.
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