'I want to cherish what time I have left': Rothwell woman with terminal cancer in housing war with Leeds council

A Rothwell woman with terminal cancer is at war with Leeds city council as she seeks to be moved from her damp and mouldy property.

By Alex Grant
Monday, 9th May 2022, 4:45 am

Joanne Firth, 43, was diagnosed with terminal, advanced cancer in October 2019.

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Since her diagnosis she has been at loggerheads with Leeds city council over her housing situation.

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Joanne Firth, 43, was diagnosed with terminal advanced cancer in October 2019.

Joanne currently lives in an old Victorian house which has become damp and mouldy.

"It's damp, it's full of mould and it's too expensive to heat. I live on my own in a three bedroom house which has a lot of problems." she told the YEP.

"I've been trying to get something done for the last few years and I am still here living from one room to another. The bedroom to the kitchen and that is it."

The desperation of her circumstances has left Joanne struggling with her mental health as she battles not only the cancer but for a new home.

Joanne currently lives in an old Victorian house which has become damp and mouldy.

"The state of health that I am in and the quality of life is just terrible. I don't want to get out of bed because of my surroundings when I should be enjoying life." she said.

"I just want to be able to potter about and cherish the little time I have left on this earth. I shouldn't have to battle every day."

Joanne explained how the back end of the house has come away due to the damp moving the foundations while her new sofa has gone mouldy.

"The only liveable rooms are my bedroom and the kitchen. My bedroom is little and I had that done up and decorated so that I could at least enjoy that but its no way to live." Joanne said.

"I have to come out my bedroom go down the big stairs and through the living room, which uninhabitable, just to get to the kitchen."

Joanne is requesting to be moved to a small two bedroom ground floor flat in her beloved Rothwell area but feels that promises made to her during 2020 by local MPs and councillors were broken.

In statement provided to YEP, Conservative MP for Elmet and Rothwell Alec Shelbrooke, said he had been left 'appalled' by Joanne's experience.

"I've been appalled to hear of my constituent's experiences, especially at a deeply stressful and emotional time." he said.

"Housing issues are ultimately for Leeds city council to resolve, although I do assist where possible to represent my constituents, and urge Leeds council to show more compassion in its approach to managing its housing stock and liaising with tenants".

Meanwhile a spokesperson for Leeds city council insisted that work was underway to rectify the situation with Joanne being handed a band A priority for rehousing.

“We’ve been working with Ms Firth to secure appropriate alternative accommodation to suit her medical needs. Ms Firth requires rehousing in the Rothwell area and requires a two bedroom adapted property, or a property capable of being adapted to meet her medical needs." the statement read.

"Ms Firth will only consider the Rothwell area for rehousing, the turnover of council homes in this area is low and demand very high. This has impacted the wait time for Ms Firth to be rehoused.

"Ms Firth has been awarded priority band A for rehousing along with a direct let award and we will continue to work with and support Ms Firth to secure an alternative suitable home.”