'It's soul destroying. We just want to take our baby home'

This Is Local London: Ricky Clitheroe and Amy Keith with their daughter Poppy. Ricky Clitheroe and Amy Keith with their daughter Poppy.

A severely disabled baby girl is unable to leave hospital four months after she was born, because her parents cannot find a suitable home.

Ricky Clitheroe and his fiancée Amy Keith were forced to apply to Barnet Homes for a council house after discovering their daughter, Poppy, needs 24-hour care.

Poppy has to breathe through a tube, which must be cleared anywhere up to 100 times a day, she suffers from a disorder that means she could stop breathing in her sleep, and needs daily doses of many medicines.

Amy, a secretary for the Metropolitan Police, is considering leaving her job to take care of Poppy, who will need an overnight carer, while Ricky continues to work as a security supervisor.

The pair currently rent privately in Mill Hill, but have been told they will need to move to a two-bedroom, ground floor flat to suit Poppy’s needs.

Unable to continue to afford renting privately, they applied to Barnet Homes for a home close to Amy’s parents in Edgware – but so far the family has not been provided with a home, meaning Poppy has to stay in hospital.

Amy told the Times Series: “I just find it really sad and depressing. I watch mums leaving the hospital with their husbands carrying their baby and I just cry. I never got that and it’s hard to take.

“If Poppy had to be in hospital for medical reasons then I could accept it, but knowing I can take her home but we just don’t have a suitable place for her is soul destroying. We just want to take our baby home.”

Poppy needs constant attention and cannot make any noise, meaning Amy will not be able to do normal everyday things like go to the toilet, take a shower or make lunch even while Poppy is sleeping.

However, in an email to the couple a spokesman for Barnet Homes replied to the family saying he can “see no specific need” for Amy to be near her family.

He added: “While it may be difficult, I do not feel that you would need so much support that your family and friends to be so close.”

In response to an enquiry from the Times Series, Barnet Homes has since said it will try to find a home in the area the family wants.

A spokeswoman for Barnet Homes said: “Our appeals and nominations team have looked into this and in light of the family’s specific area support needs and ground floor need are now looking for suitable accommodation for the family in the west of the borough.

“This is so the family can be reasonably close to a) Edgware hospital and b) Amy’s family for support.”

But Ricky and Amy said they cannot be happy until they have got their baby girl in a place they can call home.

Ricky said: “They haven’t said anything’s definite and they still haven’t given us a time frame. At this rate Poppy could be five before she leaves hospital.

“I’ve worked since I was 17 and Amy since she was 16. We’ve never been on job seekers or any benefits and I served three years in the armed forces – but that doesn’t account for anything.

“Now the one time I ask for something – for my daughter because she has disabilities – and there is no help. It’s a kick in the teeth. I just feel let down.”

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