Awaab Ishak tragedy remembered with Rochdale vigil three years on from death that rocked Greater Manchester

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A new law was introduced following the toddler's death, Awaab’s Law, placing the emphasis on social landlords to fix damp and mould.

A vigil has been held in Rochdale to mark the third anniversary of the tragic death of Awaab Ishak, a toddler who died due to a respiratory condition linked to damp and mould in his home.

On the Lviv Bridge in the town centre, a small group gathered around a picture of Awaab surrounded by candles. Council leader Neil Emmott was present, as well as organisers from the Greater Manchester Tenants Union (GMTU) who organised the event. A number of people who were just passing stopped by, immediately recognising the picture of a boy whose loss in December 2020 brought so much pain to his family, Rochdale, and Greater Manchester.

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Two-year-old Awaab Ishak who died in December 2020. His father. Faisal Abdullah had previously made complaints about the amount of thick black mould in the kitchen and bathroom of their home in Rochdale and requested re-housing. (Photo by: Family handout)Two-year-old Awaab Ishak who died in December 2020. His father. Faisal Abdullah had previously made complaints about the amount of thick black mould in the kitchen and bathroom of their home in Rochdale and requested re-housing. (Photo by: Family handout)
Two-year-old Awaab Ishak who died in December 2020. His father. Faisal Abdullah had previously made complaints about the amount of thick black mould in the kitchen and bathroom of their home in Rochdale and requested re-housing. (Photo by: Family handout)

“We remember the pain and suffering of his family”, said Ben Clay, an organiser at the GMTU. “They asked for help on numerous occasions but they were terribly let down.”

The Rochdale Boroughwide Housing (RBH) Freehold estate home where Awaab lived caused him “prolonged exposure to mould”, the Coroner’s report noted after his death, adding that “action to treat and prevent the mould, was not taken.” Awaab’s tragic death led to a widespread change in attitudes in Britain on mould and damp in housing. A new law was introduced, Awaab’s Law, placing the emphasis on social landlords to fix damp and mould.

It requires social landlords to investigate issues with damp and mould within strict time limits, with the aim of stopping something so gut-wrenching from ever happening again. It caused change at RBH, which launched a lessons learnt review of what went wrong and why. But no amount of change can ever reverse the tragedy of what has already happened.

A vigil is held in Rochdale on the third anniversary of the death of Awaab Ishak.A vigil is held in Rochdale on the third anniversary of the death of Awaab Ishak.
A vigil is held in Rochdale on the third anniversary of the death of Awaab Ishak. | LDRS

Councillor Emmott, speaking at the vigil, said: “People need to learn lessons from what happened. Let’s make sure that our voices are heard loud and clear: that there are no more deaths or hospitalisations due to mould and other defects in social housing. No amount of warm words can ever bring that little boy back – but we can make sure that it was not in vain, and that in future things will be better.”

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