THE mother of a baby girl who died after spending all her life in a damp and overcrowded flat has spoken of the daily struggle without her.
Eleven-month-old Telan Carlton died suddenly after being taken ill at her family’s one-bedroom flat in Chapelfields last October.
Her mum, Kia Stone, who said she has found the last three months the most difficult of her life, has recently been given a new home by City of York Council in Clifton to share with her son, Taran.
Kia now hopes to raise money for a personalised headstone for her daughter’s grave at Fulford Cemetery, which currently only has a name plaque.
While it has not been determined what caused Telan’s death, Kia believes their damp, crowded flat – which was home to four and had significant amounts of mould growing in the bedroom – could have been a factor. She is angry it took a death to raise awareness of poverty in York.
Only days after Telan died, on October 6, a health visitor wrote to City of York Council warning of the increased risk of cot death to another child, Isla Jackson, who was born prematurely and spent six weeks in a special baby care unit, and was then living with a family of five in a damp and mouldy two-bedroom flat in York.
Kia said: “Life is hard now, it’s hard to get up every day. There’s not a day goes by I don’t think of my little girl. She was bright, bubbly, always smiling.
“You never imagine you are going to go before your children. You never think it’s going to happen to you. It’s something you never get over. You might learn to live with it, but you never get over it.”
“We had to lose Telan before people could realise how bad poverty was in York,” said Kia.
“It’s so unfair we had to go through that. No one should have to lose a child before they realise how bad living conditions are – it’s wrong.
“People don’t realise how bad it is. I’m not the only one with damp and mould in their property. I would tell people in that position to go further, go higher, keep pushing. Nobody should live like that or have a child in a place like that.
“Since the story came out I have had lots of people asking me for advice about getting help.”
She said her and her family hoped a personalised headstone inscribed with a poem she has written and decorated with the Beatrix Potter characters Telan loved would be a fitting memorial for her daughter.
“I want it to be unique,” Kia said. “I chose her name to be unique. She was so special and I want her headstone to be special.”
Kia, 24, said she and her now estranged husband Simon had asked the council to address the mould, which was so bad it had mushrooms growing in it, and a workman was sent to install humidity-controlled fans which she said did not help.
The authority says it advised the family on how to reduce condensation. It accepts that part of the problem was there were four people and a dog living in a one-bedroom flat.
The council has said there is no evidence to suggest that the damp and conditions in the property were an influencing factor in Telan’s death.
It admits there is a massive housing shortage in York with thousands on the waiting list.
Steve Waddington, the council’s assistant director of housing and community safety, said: “The one-bedroomed flat was originally allocated to Kia Stone and her baby son only. However, at the time of the tragic death of baby Telan, the family had grown to four people, plus their dog.
"The council replaced the standard extractor fan with a humidity controlled one and advised the family on how to reduce condensation, which was not considered to be a contributory factor in the death.”
Kia has thanked numerous people for their efforts including accident and emergency nurse James, Michael Carden of Co-operative Funeral Care, Jasson Fawcett and support worker Sinead Tingley.
An inquest has been opened and adjourned into Telan’s death and histology and toxicology test results are pending.