Home Depression Inside Housing – Insight – The cladding scandal and depression: Sophie’s story

Inside Housing – Insight – The cladding scandal and depression: Sophie’s story


“He has got suspected autism,” she explains. “That is one the reasons I wanted to move – the schools in this catchment are not great for early learning, so I found a house closer to a suitable schools. It is really important kids like him get that early years support.”

However, that sale has now fallen through, due to the buyer struggling to get a mortgage sorted because of the fire safety issues. And Ms Grayling and her son must stay put.

“I don’t have a choice in the matter now and this is going to affect his future. I feel like I have completely failed as a mother because I can’t provide him a safe place to stay,” she says.

Her building was built by Bellway in 2016 along with the other blocks that make up Cunard Square, all of which have ACM but do not qualify for funding because they are under 18m. Bellway has also indicated that because of the height, it is not part of its remediation programme.

Ms Grayling bought the property in in 2017, taking up a 25% share in the property and putting down a deposit of £30,000. However, as a shared owner, she now faces 100% of the estimated £7,000 remediation bill and, potentially, any costs from the interim fire safety measures.

She says that while she knows these bills are nowhere near the figures of £100,000 some leaseholders face to remediate their buildings, this is still unaffordable for her – and she fears the costs could grow.

“I mean, I wouldn’t be using affordable housing in the first place if I had that kind of money. I’m seeing that because of supply and demand, the prices are just so inflated now, you see estimations going up three-fold – that is where my fears of increased prices come from,” she explains.

“I feel like I have completely failed as a mother because I can’t provide him a safe place to stay”

The financial pressures could have an impact on Ms Grayling’s future employment. There have already been reports of some leaseholders having to declare bankruptcy because of the cladding bills. In some professions, such as law and financial services, bankruptcy means you cannot work in the sector.

“I’m working in financial services and this could completely take away my future income – financial services are quite strict on these things.”

The culmination of all of these pressures has seen Ms Grayling “hit rock bottom” with her mental health in a matter of months. This prompted her to seek help from her local GP.

“I was completely paralysed with stress, so I decided to go to my doctor,” she says. “The driver, for me, was the fact that it was affecting my relationship and ability to be a care giver.”

She explains that it was a difficult step to take but encourages others to do the same and get help.

“It was really good to speak to someone outside of the situation and unload, he [the doctor] was really supportive,” she says.

Ms Grayling, who had never been on any form of long-term medication before, was prescribed Sertraline, an anti-depressant aimed at treating depression as well as panic attacks and post-traumatic stress.

The doctor was so shocked by her situation that he decided to write to her MP, Vick Ford, about the situation. The letter calls on the MP to take Ms Grayling’s case to the House of Commons and highlights her struggles with depression and suicidal thoughts as a result of the impacts of the cladding scandal.

Ms Grayling believes the support from her doctor has been a great help, as well as the support from her fiancé.

“The letter really lifted my spirits because I felt supported. He volunteered to write it, I didn’t know that was a thing.”

She says that she wants to speak out to other leaseholders to show that it is “OK not to be OK”.

“Mental health is serious. I’ve been hearing about people committing suicide as a result of this, although I haven’t been able to verify that, it is not a far stretch to think that people are suffering gravely from this action,” Ms Grayling says.

“This is life-ruining in every form.”


If you are affected by any of the topics covered in this story, you can get help from The Samaritans day or night, 365 days a year. You can call them for free on 116 123, email them at [email protected] or visit www.samaritans.org to find your nearest branch.


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