FROM PILLAR TO POST: Margaret Erysthee and seven of her eight children.
AFTER 13 years without a permanent home, a mother of eight and her family are living in limbo as they plead with the local council to find them suitable accommodation.
Margaret Erysthee, 42, has lambasted Newham Council in east London for its failure to identify a suitable five-bedroom house to accommodate her family.
Since 2000 the family has been forced to live in bed and breakfasts across the capital, leaving them yearning for some stability.
Erysthee and her children were given a rented property after she became a victim of domestic violence at the hands of an abusive partner. But after two years, the family say they were forced to leave because the landlady wanted the property back.
She told The Voice: “The children have been to 15 different schools. This has had a big impact on them as they can’t socialise and have health issues due to moving from pillar to post. The schools can’t keep hold of their medical records, they can’t keep up with where the children are going to follow up appointments – it’s affected every corner of the children’s lives and their schooling.”
Notwithstanding her plight, Erysthee, who lives with seven of her children, aged between eight and 20 years old, has described her large family as a blessing after being told by doctors that she was unable to become a mother because of a blocked fallopian tube.
She said: “Five years later I fell pregnant and kept on going…I am blessed in that way.”
Up until 2010, Erysthee, who suffers from epilepsy, was working in a children’s home, but was forced to leave because of ill-health brought on by the constant domestic upheaval.
She said: “Newham have told me that they can’t find us a suitable five bedroom accommodation, but my argument is that in 13-and-a half years you are telling me that you can’t find a five bedroom permanent accommodation within or outside of London? That is ridiculous.”
However, Newham Council disputed the displaced mother’s claim.
A council spokesperson said: “Ms Erysthee and her seven children were allocated a five bedroom home in June 2011 but she has since asked to be moved.
“We have found a privately rented five bedroomed house in Redbridge, which was made available to her on July 26. We have always provided her and her family with self-contained temporary accommodation as a bed and breakfast would be unsuitable for a family of her size.”
However, Erysthee disagreed, saying that the council had told her solicitor it was permanent accommodation, when in fact it was still temporary and the family could be moved again within six months. This could mean the children would have to be withdrawn from their 16th school at the beginning of the 2014 spring term.
She also claimed the property in question was riddled with damp, which posed health risks as she and two of her kids are asthmatic.
“Basically they are messing about with my children’s education,” Erysthee complained. “When I went to register them at the school the people said to me ‘is it even worth me registering the children?’
“I’ve been let down by everyone…I just want people to see how the family has been treated; it’s not fair that a family has to be moved so many times. We are not animals.”