'I feel as if we're being ignored' - Ipswich family desperate to move out of home

Nichole Crooks and her husband Matthew lived next door to Nichole's parents for ten years, until they both recently died

Nichole Crooks and her husband Matthew lived next door to Nichole's parents for ten years, until they both recently passed away. - Credit: Sarah Lucy Brown

A family in Ipswich are desperate to move out of their property for the sake of their son’s mental health. 

Nichole Crooks, 42, has been living in Woolverstone Close for 10 years with her husband, Matthew, 51, and three children, having moved there to help care for her parents, who lived next door. 

Sadly, both Nichole’s parents have now passed away. Her father died 18 months ago during lockdown, while her mother died just over eight weeks ago. 

Nichole and Matthew have been trying to move their family to a different property.

This is particularly important as their youngest child, Blake, 11, has autism and complex needs, and his mental health is being seriously impacted from living next door to his late grandparents’ home. 

A spokesperson for Orwell said: “We recognise the Crooks family is going through a very difficult time at the moment and we are very sorry for their recent loss.  

“We take the health and wellbeing of our customers extremely seriously. One of our housing officers is in regular contact, advising them of all available housing options and supporting them to access the housing register through their local council. 

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“We will continue to provide support, explore all their available options and work with them until the situation is resolved.” 

However, Nichole feels that her family’s difficulties are not being taken seriously. 

She said: “Blake isn’t sleeping, he's not eating. He's hiding away in his bedroom, he’s not talking. When he does talk, he’s had quite a few meltdowns, because he can’t understand why he can’t go into his nanny’s house.” 

Blake is also distressed by the building works which have now begun at his grandparents’ former home. 

Nichole and Matthew say Orwell Housing have told them to try to exchange their property with another family, or to go through the Gateway to Home Choice lettings system. They have attempted both, but are in need of further support. 

“I feel as if we’re being ignored,” says Nichole. 

Blake attends a school for children with special educational needs, and the decline in his mental health has been noted. In a letter, Blake’s headteacher suggests that relocating would have a “huge impact” on Blake and his family. 

Nichole has shared this letter with Orwell Housing.  

She and Matthew have sought help from Citizens Advice, as well as their MP James Cartlidge, who has raised their concerns with Orwell Housing. 

“I'm not asking a lot,” says Nichole. “All I want is to be transferred into a suitable house and for my son to have a fresh start, and be able to grieve for his nan and grandad without having to be reminded every day.”