‘We had to move from our council flat because of bedbugs - it was horrific’

Mark Henderson and Chelsea Francis feared passing the insects to others so they refused to go outside

George Mathias
Saturday 28 October 2023 21:21 BST
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<p>“My kids get bedbugsin their ears - it’s absolutely disgusting,” Mark Henderson says </p>

“My kids get bedbugsin their ears - it’s absolutely disgusting,” Mark Henderson says

A family has been moved from their council flat due to a bedbug infestation - which they say became so bad they refused to go outside.

Mark Henderson and Chelsea Francis feared passing the insects to others so would stay holed up in the one-bed property in Fulham, south-west London.

The couple - parents to Ewan, two, and Riley, four weeks - say Mark has been unable to work, and as a result, they have been forced to live on £900-a-month benefits, they say, as Chelsea has been declared unfit to work due to suffering with epilepsy.

Hammersmith & Fulham council took action last week and moved the family into a hotel while a new home is looked for.

Handyman Mark, 27, who has lived in the flat for seven years, said: “It was horrific having to live there. I wouldn’t wish it on anyone.

“Me, my partner and two kids couldn’t leave the house because we are covered in bedbugs and didn’t want to pass them on. I don’t want people to think we’re dirty - the house was spotless. We’re clean people but the bedbugs were just everywhere.”

But the severity of the bedbug problem ramped up in the last year - causing so much stress they wanted out.

Mr Henderson said: “My kids get bedbugsin their ears - it’s absolutely disgusting.

“We couldn’t go to out as a family.

“There was funfair the other day that we had planned to go to, but we couldn’t. The bedbugs are in their prams, in their clothes - they are even in the fridge.

“We just want to live our lives and be able to go outside. No one should have to go through this.”

Ms Francis, 26, added: “The bedbugs weren’t budging. They get in wardrobes and in my bed. They were everywhere.

“It was awful and so gross, knowing that you were getting crawled on the whole time. It was like a nightmare.”

Hammersmith & Fulham Council said officers had visited the property nine times since 2018 over the issue and a spokesperson confirmed the family had been moved and new accommodation was being sought.

Mark said of their first night in a hotel: “Being able to have a bath and a shower and coming out knowing you won’t be sitting back in bedbugs was amazing.

“It’s the best sleep we’ve ever had. Both the kids slept like logs. We are so relieved to be out of there.”

A council spokesperson said: “We have acted swiftly [on October 19] and moved the family into a hotel, as we find them a new, permanent home.

“We are now working closely with the family to make sure that they have the daily support they need – including a dedicated social worker, any clothing, bedding or furniture they need, meals, as well as financial help to allow them to buy other food and supplies.”

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