Drying washing inside homes makes them damp and encourages the growth of mould, creating an unhealthy living space. Sadly many families have little option but to dry their laundry inside, potentially affecting their children’s health.

A child’s home environment has a big impact on their healthy growth and development. Research in this area is compelling – children living in damp and cold homes are much more likely to have respiratory problems and be at risk of other infections. 

Home-Start South and East Belfast with Home-Start North Belfast created the ‘Laundry Project’ to provide families with a laundry service to help remove the main cause of damp and mould in their homes. The impact on families was immediate, as Eelco Westerhuis from Home-Start South and East Belfast explains:

“It’s shocking to think the health of families can be adversely affected by something as mundane as the weekly washing, but it’s been an issue we’ve been aware of for some time. When we started the Laundry Project we immediately saw the impact it had on families, with many telling us that life felt more manageable just by having that one pressure removed.”

Liza Buchanan, a single mum to four children was offered the service because two of her four children have special needs. Liza said:

Zach, my oldest son has non-verbal autism and global development delay. Zach has always required a lot of care and attention, but when my youngest child Addison was born with a heart condition, I found myself split between two children.

Whatever I did during the day it was never enough. Caring for the children, managing the house and dealing with the various hospital appointments was weighing me down.

When Home-Start suggested the Laundry Project I had no idea what a difference it would make to our lives. It sounds ridiculous to say, but the first time the man came to take away my laundry, I literally felt a weight lifting off my back. I felt I could breathe

We usually have our radiators piled high with damp washing – something I always hated because Addison has scarring on her lungs. I knew it was bad to dry clothes on radiators but I had no other choice. This has completely taken away the need for us to have damp clothes in the house and has made our home so much healthier for the children.”

Eelco hopes that the project will be a long term offering. “We’d like to see laundry vouchers be as acceptable as food vouchers for those who need them. This project has had a huge impact on families’ homes and health and we hope to be able to continue to offer this support next winter.” 

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