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Mum and two-year-old son left without heating for four months in Orbit housing flat in Wayfield, Chatham

A mum says her two-year-old son is so “freezing” cold every night he has red feet and blue lips after having no working heating in their rented home for months.

Fiona Ferris, from Chatham, says she is disgusted the issue has been allowed to rumble on for so long after first being reported at the beginning of October.

Charlie’s feet are often red from being so cold
Charlie’s feet are often red from being so cold

The 30-year-old lives with her son, Charlie in a flat in Mountbatten Avenue run by housing company Orbit.

But despite reaching out to the homes provider more than 10 times she claims to have been left permanently without her electric-powered heating for months on end.

The housing association says it takes the welfare of its customers very seriously and has responded to call-outs numerous times. But it claims her storage heaters are working and the problem lies with her electricity supply.

It has been suggested Fiona contact her supplier directly to investigate any potential issues.

But the mum-of-one feels she is being bounced back and forth without resolution and desperately wants the heating back on.

Fiona Ferris says she is "disgusted" by the situation and Orbit are refusing to help
Fiona Ferris says she is "disgusted" by the situation and Orbit are refusing to help

She told KentOnline: “A bloke has come out about five times to the property. They come here, write a report up, and it goes back to Orbit.”

Meanwhile her flat is so chilly she says Charlie constantly has a cold and a snotty nose and his hands and feet are always red and his lips have turned blue at times.

The mum-of-one suffers from arthritis and sciatica in her back which she claims have been worsened by the plummeting temperature in her flat.

Fiona added: “When it’s cold in here, I’m constantly in pain. When Charlie comes out of his cot every morning it's like he’s been in the freezer.

“I’ve been constantly ringing Orbit. I’ve gone Christmas without heating, New Year's without heating, and I’m still without heating.”

To try and keep warm the pair wrap up in multiple layers. Charlie has to use multiple blankets and pillows at night.

The flat is so cold Fiona says her son Charlie’s hands are turning red
The flat is so cold Fiona says her son Charlie’s hands are turning red

Meanwhile, his mum wears a dressing gown, socks and two duvets over her when going to bed.

Fiona said: “I shouldn’t have to do all that in my home. I should be able to feel warm.

“It’s so cold that I’m not sleeping at night. I get in my bed and because it’s freezing in my room, I just can’t sleep properly.”

The housing group has provided Fiona with small plug-in heaters but she claims they did not help warm up her flat.

“They didn’t even heat my son's room up - I left it on for an hour but it didn’t do anything,” she added.

At the moment, Charlie’s room is so cold that he doesn’t want to go in it.

Fiona has reported the “disgusting” situation to Orbit several times, as well as lodging an official complaint with the housing ombudsman which the homes provider will need to respond to by February 5.

However, Orbit maintains the four storage heaters in her flat are working and any issue would be with Fiona’s electricity provider.

To which Fiona replied: “But if they [the heaters] work, why are they blowing out cold air? They should be blowing out hot air.”

A spokesperson for the housing group said: “The welfare of our customers is our number one priority. Our contractors have attended each time Ms Ferris has raised a concern regarding her storage heaters and confirmed that they have been working correctly, most recently on January 12.

Charlie sleeps with multiple blankets and pillows to keep warm enough
Charlie sleeps with multiple blankets and pillows to keep warm enough

“We understand Ms Ferris remains concerned, so our contractors have attended again to recheck and provide reassurance that the heaters are in working order.

“We have, however, advised Ms Ferris to contact her electricity supplier directly to investigate any potential issues with her electricity supply.”

EDF, the electricity supplier Fiona had been using until recently, says it is looking into the family’s plight.

A spokesperson said: “We’re sorry to hear about the problems Ms Ferris has been facing and we’re investigating this as a priority.

“We remain committed to helping as many customers as possible, including providing debt relief and installing energy efficiency for those in fuel poverty.”

British Gas has since taken over as Fiona’s utility supplier and say they have connected the electricity but Fiona says problems still persist.

When approached for further comment the energy provider said as it had only taken over on Tuesday (January 22) it would not be responsible for the “historic challenges” she faced but was working with the customer.

Meanwhile Fiona says she has been left both “mentally and physically” drained by the ordeal and back and forth responses.

A spokesperson for Orbit said: “We are saddened to hear that Ms Ferris has concerns regarding her mental health and would encourage her to reach out to us as we may be able to provide further wellbeing support via our external partners.

“In the meantime, we encourage Ms Ferris to contact us directly us with any questions, as we are committed to resolving her concern as quickly as possible.”

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