A single parent and domestic abuse survivor has slammed Kingston Council over living conditions in two hostels she was housed in during the pandemic.

The mum, who we have chosen not to name, said her health had deteriorated whilst staying in council hostel accommodation in the borough this year, where she tested positive for Covid-19 amid fears over a lack of cleanliness at two different hostels.

She told the Surrey Comet she was initially placed in a hostel in the south of the borough via a women's refuge with her child, and voiced complaints after discovering the "filthy" living conditions there:

"I was going through a women's refuge so they put me into a hostel in Chessington, in a small room with my child.

"We had a cleaning service due to the pandemic, people coming twice a day every day to clean. Sadly after a month or two, they suddenly stopped it, I think it was in May this year, and reduced it to two times a week, and just in the morning. I'm cautious when it comes to infection control. When I complained, they did nothing. Nothing was done. This place was filthy.

"My neighbour in the next door room tested positive for Covid. They supplied them with a temporary isolation accommodation."

Surrey Comet:

The woman's neighbour was reportedly instructed to take a taxi to isolation accommodation outside of the hostel. However, complications arose with transport due to her positive Covid test.

It was June by this point. The woman said that, as she had previously feared, she soon also tested positive for Covid-19.

"Two days later, I tested positive. They wanted me to do the same thing. They told me I need to go, I said I was unable to go, I couldn't drive because I was already ill. I had a temperature, I was feeling really rough. I told them 'I feel terrible, I'm not driving anywhere I'm not going to risk it on the roads.' They told me to take a taxi. I told them I was not going to risk infecting other people with the infection, that I was not going anywhere.

"Eventually, around July 20, they moved me."

Surrey Comet:

She told the Surrey Comet she had been at the second hostel since then. Yet her situation had scarcely improved. In some ways, and in light of pre-existing health problems, it had deteriorated:

"The situation has caused me a lot of problems because I was supposed to have an operation later in the month that I cannot now have. I cannot get back on the list because I have had Covid, because I was infected. So I'm suffering. I'm due to have surgery and because I am not well, I can't go back to work.

"It's all connected and I am angry, and really frustrated with them.

"The new place is worse than the previous place I would say. It's filthy. There are limits to what I can accept. It's only thanks to my friends and family that I am surviving really."

The Surrey Comet approached Kingston Council to comment on the woman's case and the allegations she made of their service.

A spokesperson said: "Providing support and safe refuge to survivors of domestic abuse is a priority for the council. We always endeavour to provide accommodation of a suitable standard, our hostels are routinely inspected and regular cleaning regimes are in place.

"Throughout the pandemic we have followed Public Health England (PHE) guidance to ensure robust infection control procedures are in place in all our temporary accommodation sites. PHE guidance states that anyone living in accommodation with shared facilities who tests positive for Covid-19 should be offered self-contained accommodation. If we receive any reports of PHE guidance not being followed, we will investigate fully.

"We always welcome the feedback of residents on the services we provide. We take any complaints very seriously and are committed to ensuring they are thoroughly investigated."

Still unable to work fulltime, the woman is now claiming the diminished Universal Credit while she recovers and cares for her child.

Despite the council assurances, she remains defiant and highly critical of her treatment in the last few months:

"They have to start looking after their residents. It's not only me who is suffering. There are a lot of people going through similar situations."