IN THE wake of a Rochdale toddler’s tragic death, a task force looking into the borough's council housing is hunting for potential ‘hazards’.

Awaab Ishak, aged two, suffered a cardiac arrest due to respiratory failure in December 2020, which had been caused by mould in his home.

Wigan Council, responsible for thousands of homes, are trying to avoid anything similar happening in the borough. They have put more funding towards their housing team in order to carry out this review.

“I am sure people have received the report into the death of Awaab which is an absolute tragedy,” Charlotte Cordingley, director for housing, property and corporate assets at Wigan Council, told the Housing Advisory Panel on November 24. 

“We are taking this extremely seriously as we know there is a potential respiratory problems people can suffer. As a result we have set up a local taskforce to start a review into our developments and an action plan to respond to that. 

“We have sent out a letter this week to say we will be providing a response. The assessment is to find detailed information and identify any hazards as a result of mould.

“We have put additional resources in place to respond to this.”

She went on to say the housing team have set up triage calling to respond to any concerns residents may have. This planned review was something already in motion in Wigan, but plans have been accelerated in the wake of Awaab’s death, Wigan Town Hall was told.

This plan will run alongside housing updates to meet new regulations brought in following the Grenfell Tower disaster in 2017 as well. The more recent incident involving Awaab saw Rochdale Boroughwide Housing heavily criticised across the country for their failures to deal with the mould. 

The culture of residents ‘losing their voice’ in Rochdale is something Joanne Willmott, assistant director of Adult Social Care wanted to avoid in Wigan. This has been part of an 18-month long strategy to boost resident’s involvement with the council.

“What came across loud and strong in Rochdale was that the voices of people were lost,” Ms Willmott told the panel. “We are working to address that in Wigan these last 18 months. 

“We are not getting complacent. We want to continue the expansion of our tenant voices. We don’t want people to fall through the gaps.”

The members of the board requested that information be spread across the borough to raise awareness of the issues caused by mould. This would include preventative methods and ways in which people should address potential hazards in their homes.

Information on dealing with mould and condensation is available on the council website.