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‘The dust could be so dangerous’: Bermondsey mother’s fears for daughter with severe breathing problems if nearby building goes ahead

A Bermondsey woman who lives near a proposed council housing development has said she is worried that the noise and dust from building works could be “very dangerous” for her severely disabled daughter. 

Timmi Sample has lived in temporary accommodation in Hickling House on the Slippers Place Estate for several years. Her daughter Ruby, 15, has Rett syndrome, a very rare condition that means she is in a wheelchair and is “totally dependent” on her mother and carers to survive. She often needs extra oxygen to breathe properly and suffers from seizures.  

As we reported earlier this month Southwark Council plans to build eighteen council homes in a new block on the Slippers Place Estate, to help meet the huge local housing need. A planning application has been submitted and a decision is expected next month. 

Some on the estate are opposed to the new build because they are worried about the potential loss of light and parking from the new building, although a report submitted as part of the application said “there will… be no adverse impact on neighbouring residents in terms of daylight”. 

Timmi’s concerns are about her daughter rather than the light. Ruby has suffered hugely in the Covid-19 lockdowns because it has been difficult to get her the in-person medical attention she needs, Timmi said, and her condition has massively deteriorated. In September Ruby was hospitalised with double pneumonia and only two per cent of her right lung now works. “I thought I was going to have to say goodbye there and then,” Timmi said.

Timmi is worried that the extra dust and noise that may be caused by the building work could be bad for Ruby’s fragile health, given her lungs are so weak. “It’s very dangerous for her what they’re doing. I’m so worried about the effect this will have on Ruby,” Timmi said. The council said that builders would keep to a code of conduct that minimises noise and dust, although some other developments in the borough have not always stuck to agreed rules

Councillor Stephanie Cryan, cabinet member for council homes and homelessness, said: “Our housing team is working to assist Ms Sample and her daughter in moving from temporary accommodation into suitable permanent housing. They’re currently looking for properties in the borough that meet their needs and will be in touch to discuss these further with Ms Sample.”




  1. I am glad that Counillor Stephanie Cryan is taking responsibility for getting Timmi and Ruby into suitable permanent housing as soon as possible. There are so many people in the community that have been watching this story evolve, and after what seems like forever, Councillor Cryan’s commitment to finally getting Ruby into a proper home as soon as possible is very welcome. We are all looking forward to reading the next instalment in this story where Ruby and Timmi are finally in a home in which Timmi and family can properly look after Ruby. If Councilor Cryan can arrange this in time for Christmas this will reflect very well on her as someone who can get things done. At this stage the undertaking to help is welcome – now the community want to see some action!

  2. Ruby should have been housed somewhere different along long time ago – I’m sure again the council will just fob her off like they always have done! Timi has to lift that girl up and down stairs and Timi has an extremely bad back. The house is not suitable and the council should be ashamed!

  3. Why are you not moving them to permanent housing with the facilities that are needed for Ruby, it’s disgusting. The Family have waited too long now give them what they deserve. Southward Council you should be ashamed.

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