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A COUPLE are at "breaking point" after sleeping on the sofa with their baby and toddler for two years as they plead with the council to find them a bigger home.
Catherine Celiesius and Shane Turner and their three young kids live in a tiny one-bed flat in Sutton Coldfield.
The family-of-five have just four rooms – a kitchen, lounge, bathroom and a single bedroom, which they have given to seven-year-old Freddie, who has ADHD.
Each night at 7pm the couple open out a sofa bed which they share with toddler Cody, while one-year-old Lola sleeps in a cot next to them.
The family said they have been on the housing register at Birmingham City Council for a year.
Catherine told Birmingham Live: "It’s a nightmare, really hard on everyone.
"We don’t get much sleep. I try to have a routine but we haven’t got any separate space. I can’t put the lights on or do anything to make any noise.
"If I go into the kitchen, it disturbs the children even more as it's so nearby.
"It means we can’t get any jobs done, put the TV on or do the washing up, I have to do it in the morning. We just spend the evenings trying to settle the children. It’s stressful.
"Lola sleeps in a cot at the moment but she’s getting bigger now and I don’t know where she’s going to sleep."
Freddie's ADHD means he has meltdowns and can become aggressive and efforts to have Cody in a bunk-bed with him have not ended well as Freddie ended up trashing the room.
And being on the third floor of the block means there's no outdoor space for the children to play or for the family to hang out their washing.
Catherine said: "I have to hang the washing around the flat because there's no outside space to dry it.
"When we get up in the morning, we pack up the sofa bed and put the duvets and pillows into storage bags next to the sofa because there’s nowhere else for them to go.
"Living on the third floor is a huge struggle with three children, especially during a fire alarm when I am alone."
"We are reaching breaking point. I try to avoid parents at the school because I feel embarrassed about how we’re living."
She said Freddie can't have any friends over because there isn't enough room.
Catherine worked in a nursery before going on maternity leave and she's now trying to become a mobile nail technician.
'I JUST FEEL STUCK'
But having to switch off the lights at 7pm for the kids means she has no time to study.
Catherine said: "I saved up and bought the equipment and supplies I needed and paid for an online course, but I just have no time and no separate space for myself to focus on training.
"I want to do better for myself and the children but I just feel stuck."
The family have been trying to move since 2019 when Catherine first moved in with Shane, who had been in the flat for eight years before that.
The pandemic has worsened the situation as Catherine was isolated from her family and friends when Cody was born.
She said: "We truly feel like every day we are just surviving rather than living our lives.
"We’re on the transfer list but there aren’t any three bedroom properties and the council is saying we’re not likely to get one."
A spokesperson for Birmingham City Council told Birmingham Live: "Properties that become available to the City Council are advertised through our choice based lettings scheme, and those on the register need to bid for suitable properties, these are then allocated to the household that bids with the greatest housing need.
“If applicants consider that it is taking too long we advise they look at other options."
The council said it has also introduced a new scheme with Help2Rent to help with renting in the private sector.
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