A heartbroken single mum has to explain to her daughter why she has to throw her mouldy ruined toys away.
In her mid-twenties, Kystalrose found herself living in a homeless hostel and expecting a child.
Unable to rely on friends or family for a place to stay, the north London woman moved into a small one bed flat on the private market with the help of housing benefits and gave birth to her daughter.
Krystalrose quickly discovered that the walls had been slapped with fresh white paint for a reason.
Soon mould began to grow in the property, eating through the mum and daughter’s clothes and bedding.
While the 27-year-old struggled to cope with an eviction notice served during the pandemic which will see the pair out this autumn, her baby daughter was mourning the loss of her favourite toys.
“All her teddies were affected and her first ever baby grow,” Krystalrose told The Mirror.
“Even down to her first shoes, her bedding. One of her toys I couldn’t wash it and save it for her. She was crying because she didn’t understand why I had to throw it away.”
The mouldy home has also impacted the mum and daughter’s health.
She said: “I have been getting chest pains, my breathing gets worse, I have shortness of breath and panic attacks as well.
“My daughter doesn’t have breathing problems, but keeps getting colds and eye infections.
“It has been a nightmare to watch my daughter grow up in it.”
Krystalrose is one of the 11.8 million people new research from Shelter found are living in homes with significant damp, mould and condensation in the UK.
She is also part of the four million people who are forced to regularly cut back on essential items, like food and heating, to pay their housing costs.
“I pay good money for this place – I can’t afford a big food shop anymore; I really have to watch how much I eat,” she continued.
“I thought for the amount of money it was going to be a proper home. I’ve tried to make it feel like one, but it’s not.
“The mould has ruined my daughter’s cot and all our clothes. We’re living out of bags. I’m asthmatic and we have both become ill because of it.
“It’s just been about coping. I’m on antidepressants now because of the stress.
“All I want is a home where we can feel safe and comfortable. The simple things like a wardrobe to pack your clothes away; a living room with a sofa to sit on; not having to share a bedroom.
“My daughter doesn’t know what that feels like. It’s like our lives can’t move forward.”
Although Krystalrose struggles with her mental health, she is determined to hold things together for her daughter.
Her resolve is strengthened by her singing, which she loves to do and helps her through the tough times.
The single mum is determined to get back to work when she can and even pursue a singing career one day.
“There are days when I am falling apart, but I’m trying to stay strong for my daughter,” Krystalrose said.
“One thing that helped me get through the pain is my singing. It is quite therapeutic for me.”
Shelter is calling on people to fight to reform the private rental sector.