To Prevent mould in housing we need a neighbourhood approach

Featured Image: Unhealthy Neighbourhood Syndrome by Husam AlWaer, Joshua Speedie, Ian Cooper

You’ll be as relieved as I am to hear that much work to address mould and damp is being done across the UK through university knowledge transfer projects 

locally, Nottingham City and County projects to alleviate damp and mould and

Metropolitan Thames Valley (MTVH’s) Housing’s policy through their Customer Voice platform encourages education and knowledge and a quick report and update process: 

They provide a damp and mould awareness and action leaflet:

To be really inspired about the way researchers are working on housing for all of our futures, check out Salford University’s Heat House and share it with as many people as you can.

Above: The Salford Energy House research centre which like a russian doll contains three semi detached houses built for state of the art practical research access.

We need to be amazed at these incredible focusses of talent, training, skills, experience can produce the quality of environment that we all aspire to.

To return to the problem of damp and mould: knowing that we can resolve them we need to understand also that the problem, though differentiated through the appalling death of two year old Awaab Ishak, like poor health, is symptomatic of UK wide over reliance on shareholding profits at the expense of supply chain knowledge, skills, training, understanding and accountability across UK housebuilding and management.

We need to realise that in many areas of our myriad supply chains in the UK, quality leadership with quality expectations has been abandoned because of scale, pressure and a competition that needs to be made accountable to what local people aspire to, need and can afford: a proportionality that’s been missing and affects everyone in society.

It’s a problem, that like Covid, affects refugees, migrants, ex prisoners, precariously housed (babies, children, young people, adults, older people) more intensely but because we’ve lived so long in a case study society/news appears to be PR for a media promoting we’ve got used to hearing (and switching off our questioning minds) when we hear yet another success story the big companies would like to be heard.

We’ve normalised an abnormal sense of not finishing things properly even in the way we expect to understand things. The media shifts from PR to sensation on stories that really need further investigation. Over time we forget to ask: well how does/did this start, become an issue and what should be all be doing to prevent it?

We need to re-enfranchise everyone as citizens not as consumers: everyone has a right to have access to the world they live and work in: everyone needs good quality information. It’s a form of nourishment.

To begin to understand damp and mould we need to realise that damp and mould runs from the castles, estates and accommodation of the royal family throughout the privately owned sector, in hostels, hotels, in newly built homes as well as the private rented and social housing sectors.

We live in an historically draughty, society: in 2022 we need to start in the neighbourhoods and little by little re look at who and what we think we know and bring back that sense of 100% commitment, purpose, intent and motivation into connecting with people, creating new ways of thinking and doing.

The problem is deeply embedded in the contracted out supply chains where a shareholder led and driven culture of the last forty years has knocked the stuffing out of relationship between learning, skills, motivation and quality of the job done. The quality of the job done affects the emotional and physical wellbeing of workers. When workers are disenfranchised and moving from job to job, or agency to agency and noone takes responsibility for the resultant culture created, if workers are themselves in precarious, expensive rented accommodation while working on a day rate for an employer, landlord who appears not to really care as long as the job gets done then over time the whole working supply chain is affected: it’s a kind of mouldy thinking that you can’t just blame on the feckless poor, it’s the kind of mould that sees people as useable and dispensable objects.

That’s metaphorical mould: to go back to real mould, it’s something that affects everyone, regardless of class or status, though obviously, status gives access to resourceful remedies. But we need to be more sensitive to media stereotypes of ‘need’ and in doing that become part of a much wider regeneration of ourselves. If we can regenerate ourselves then the project of regenerating the local, regional, national and international will be achievable.

If we think of all the UK homes as places that give us our humanities, that grow our qualities, our families, neighbourhoods, all our organisations, businesses then we begin to rejuvenate ourselves too.