United Kingdom

Awaab Ishak’s death ‘rightly shocked social housing sector’, new boss of Rochdale Boroughwide Housing says

The new boss of the housing organisation that managed the flat in which a boy was killed by mould has said his death “rightly shocked the social housing sector”.

Yvonne Arrowsmith was announced as the new interim chief executive of Rochdale Boroughwide Housing (RBH) on Thursday.

Her predecessor, Gareth Swarbrick, was sacked after a coroner ruled that Awaab Ishak’s death at the age of two was caused by “extensive” mould in his family’s rented flat.

Announcing her appointment, the chair of the RBH board and the chair of its representative body said: “We want to start by saying again how sorry we are for the loss of Awaab.

“We know our words will not take away the pain felt by his family, nor will they heal the hurt being felt here in Rochdale as well as across the country.”

Ms Arrowsmith, who has worked in the social housing sector for the past 30 years, had been appointed “to make sure that we put in place the changes we need to make”, the statement said.

Ms Arrowsmith said: “This is a difficult time to be joining RBH, following the tragic death of Awaab Ishak.

“His death and the coroner’s verdict into it have rightly shocked the social housing sector.

“I strongly believe that everyone has the right to live in a home that is safe and secure.”

“So, although a difficult time, I am looking forward to working with the board, representative body and employees to prioritise the safety and security of people living in our homes, to make sure that action is taken where it is needed, and to begin the process of earning the trust and confidence of our residents.”

She will take up the role on 12 December.

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