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'Time running out' to reunite and house family with four-year-old daughter receiving end of life care



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A single mother from Bishop's Stortford is desperately hoping East Herts Council (EHC) will find her a house so that her three children, one of whom is receiving end-of-life care, can be reunited.

Natalie Hill, 37, had been living in a privately-rented two-bedroom property in Hockerill, but after lengthy delays getting the heating and hot water repaired and a break-in, she moved in with her mother, Sue, on the Haver's estate on the advice of health visitors who deemed the flat unsuitable for the children. She has since been serviced noticed on the flat by the landlord.

But her four-year-old daughter, Freya, who suffers from the life-limiting brain condition Polymicrogyria, lives apart from the family and Natalie said "time was running out" for them to all be together once again.

Queens Crescent, Bishop's Stortford. Natalie Hills with Mum Sue Hills and sons Reggie and Jack. .Pic: Vikki Lince. (52024204)
Queens Crescent, Bishop's Stortford. Natalie Hills with Mum Sue Hills and sons Reggie and Jack. .Pic: Vikki Lince. (52024204)

The youngster also has epilepsy, is deaf and blind, has breathing and kidney problems and is fed through a tube, requiring 16 hours-a-day care. She currently lives with her father in Clacton, while Natalie's two boys, Jack, seven, and Reggie Ray, 18 months, stay with her.

And while Natalie has a court order for shared residency of her daughter, without a house, this cannot begin and she has been told by EHC that she does not have enough points to qualify for emergency housing.

Natalie's mum, Sue, said: "Time is running out. No-one knows how long Freya has left, especially with he rare brain condition Polymicrogyria. Freya is extremely ill and has spent most her life in hospitals. She is peg fed with a micky button, has no upper muscle tone so she cannot hold her head, walk or talk.

"We as a family need to make precious memories, but without a suitable house the family is torn apart. Housing have given so little points to bid, even with extreme circumstances."

Natalie said she fled from her family home in Colchester due to domestic abuse and while Freya had always been in her care, the flat she ended up renting through Harlow-based letting agents, Nickolds, was not suitable for her daughter. "I approached East Herts and explained the situation where I was told I didn't qualify because Freya wouldn't be here forever - they didn't need to house me because Freya receives palliative care. There weren't in the least bit empathetic, there was no compassion shown.

"My children are missing valuable time with their sister, but because I do not have enough points, it's not an emergency. I have no outside space for Jack, who is under the mental health team at seven years old and we are living with my mum in her three bedroom property with myself, my kids, and my brother and all of our mental health is suffering."

She added: "I could have a phone call tomorrow or in a year about Freya and being her main carer and watching her go through everything with only having contact on a Saturday is unacceptable and it is destroying us as a family.

"My baby, who is one, hasn't got a bond with his sister and may never have. I'm just asking for a three bedroom house so the carers can come in and look after my daughter and for Jack to have his own space so that when life seems too much, he has his own space to go. I just feel so helpless."

Stortford MP Julie Marson and district councillor Terence Beckett (All Saints Ward) have taken up her case and EHC confirmed this week it was investigating.

Said an EHC spokesperson: "While we cannot give details of specific cases, we can confirm that when someone becomes homelessness because they can no longer live in their private rented accommodation, the council will work with the household to help them into alternative housing.

"Our housing team can provide advice, agree a personal housing plan and, in some instances, provide temporary accommodation while longer-term accommodation can be found. Our team is continuing to work closely with Ms Hill to assist her with living situation. We would encourage anyone who finds themselves in a similar position to check our website for more information and guidance - www.eastherts.gov.uk/housing/homeless-or-threatened-homelessness

Cllr Beckett said the housing team would be doing all it could to help Natalie. "I know the team have been actively involved with the family and that social care is involved as well. They are a good team and will do everything they can to help her. If the situation gets to a crisis point, then we would put her in temporary accommodation, she won't be living on the streets with her children."



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