A couple and their baby and toddler have shared their struggle of having to sleep in the living room of their one bedroom flat
Mum and dad Catherine Celiesius and Shane Turner from Birmingham have just four rooms – a kitchen, lounge, bathroom and single bedroom which they have given to seven-year-old Freddie, who has ADHD.
And the family are desperate for the council to help.
Mum and dad Catherine Celiesius and Shane Turner have just four rooms – a kitchen, lounge, bathroom and single bedroom which they have given to seven-year-old Freddie, who has ADHD.
Then, each night at 7pm they open out a sofa bed which they share with toddler Cody, while Lola, one, sleeps in a cot next to them.
It means they have no time to do anything in the evenings, including housework, reports Birmingham Live.
The family, from Sutton Coldfield, have been on the housing register at Birmingham City Council for a year.
But there’s always around 100 people ahead of them despite being in priority band 2 – for people who ‘need to move’.
“It’s a nightmare, really hard on everyone,” said Catherine.
“We don’t get much sleep. I try to have a routine but we haven’t got any separate space. I can’t put the lights on or do anything to make any noise. If I go into the kitchen, it disturbs the children even more as it’s so nearby.
“It means we can’t get any jobs done, put the TV on or do the washing up, I have to do it in the morning. We just spend the evenings trying to settle the children. It’s stressful.
“Lola sleeps in a cot at the moment but she’s getting bigger now and I don’t know where she’s going to sleep.”
Sadly, Freddie’s condition means he has meltdowns and can become aggressive.
Attempts to have Cody in a bunk-bed with him have not gone down well as the elder sibling ended up trashing the room.
Freddie’s school recommended he use up his energy playing outside, as he can become stressed and anxious indoors.
But being on the third floor means there’s no outdoor space for the children to play in or for the family to hang washing.
The lack of space also means the family has to use the wardrobes to store boxes of belongings.
Catherine and Shane have had to take clothes and toys to charity shops or the tip, with anything they desperately want to keep to family to store for them.
“We are reaching breaking point,” said Catherine.
“I try to avoid parents at the school because I feel embarrassed about how we’re living,” she continued, adding that Freddie can’t have any friends over because there isn’t enough room.
The mum worked in a nursery before going on maternity leave and is now trying to get her qualifications to become a mobile nail technician.
But having to switch off the lights at 7pm means she has very little time for study.
While partner Shane has autism, ADHD and dyspraxia and was training to be a HGV driver before the pandemic struck.
He is currently out of work.
Catherine said: “I want to do better for myself and the children but I just feel stuck.”
The family have been trying to move since 2019 when Catherine first moved in with Shane.
He’d been in the flat for eight years prior to that.
They have been trying to move house via various housing associations and even other councils.
Catherine said the housing association advised she move into a hostel prior to moving in with Shane but she couldn’t do that with Freddie – who she had during a previous relationship.
The pandemic has made things worse as Cody was just a baby when Covid hit and meant Catherine was isolated from the rest of her family and friends who live in Dudley.
“We truly feel like every day we are just surviving rather than living our lives,” she added.
A spokesperson for Birmingham City Council said it would always encourage people in housing need to talk to their current landlord to see if they can assist them.
“Properties that become available to the City Council are advertised through our choice based lettings scheme, and those on the register need to bid for suitable properties, these are then allocated to the household that bids with the greatest housing need,” they continued.
“If applicants consider that it is taking too long we advise they look at other options.”
The council ha