Alexandria youngster who eats floor and wall coverings to get dream bedroom after firm steps in

A little Vale boy is going to have his dream bedroom after a big-hearted company in to end the family’s two-year council battle to make it safe.

Five-year-old Barry McLaughlin has Pica, a rare condition which causes him to chew wall and floor coverings, and has been waiting on West Dunbartonshire Health and Social Care Partnership to carry out vital adaptations.

We reported three weeks ago how mum Caitlyn is in constant fear of him hurting himself and has been fighting for work to be carried out.

A roll of lino, supplied by WDHSCP, has been lying in her hall since last summer, with the walls and floor still bare and electrics yet to be completed.

But she was left overwhelmed when Impact Group UK, based in London, got in touch offering to transform Barry’s bedroom at their own cost.

The firm had previously supplied a quote for the work over a year ago, which Caitlyn says she passed onto the council but nothing came of it.

Commercial director James Cooke read our story online and reached out to Caitlyn pledging to safely kit out the space, including an ocean-themed feature wall and built-in TV.

Caitlyn said: “This means so much to us. After the story was in the Lennox I thought it would maybe give the council a push but I never thought for a minute that a company would reach out.

“Somebody had tagged James in the story and he sent me a message on Facebook.

“He said ‘If you don’t mind we would like to come out and get Barry’s room as safe as possible. You won’t need to worry any more. We’re going to make it safe and fun for him.

“I couldn’t believe it. I was in floods of tears. I thought it was such a nice thing to do.

“They did a quote over the year ago which I showed the council but they said it was too expensive. I offered to pay part of it as it included the cost of a TV which I didn’t expect them to pay.”

Director Michael Blake told the Lennox Herald the company, which specializes in installing hygienic surfaces in healthcare facilities, hospitality, leisure and in homes, didn’t think twice about contacting Caitlyn after seeing our story.

He said: “We didn’t hear anything else after doing the quote so presumed it had been carried out.

“When we found out she was in the same situation we knew we had to get the job done.

“We’re going to make a really fun, safe environment for Barry and it will give Caitlyn peace of mind knowing her son is safe.”

The mum-of-two previously told how there was “no dignity” in his bedroom, which only has a bed in it for Barry to sleep.

He has eaten the floor underlay, skirting boards and wall coverings and requires materials around him which he cannot try and eat or rip up.

Impact Group UK specializes in the work requiring to be done and James and his team traveled up from England last week, spending five hours assessing the work needed to be carried out.

They are planning to return in a couple of weeks to carry out the work over four days, replacing wall and floor coverings and installing a fun aquarium feature wall.

Caitlyn said: “They sent me some different options for the feature wall and I picked one I knew Barry would like.

“It’s got fish, corals, whales and turtles. I was expecting a plain wall but he said they wanted to make it fun for him. He’s going to love it.

“They are going to put a TV in with a perspex screen over it. There will be a fake wall with wires and sockets behind so there will be no chance of him chewing any of it. I don’t need to worry about him sticking his fingers into the sockets.

“It’s going to be amazing and I can’t wait to see his face when it’s done.

“He has a few wee friends who he’ll be able to invite round to play in his room and it’s going to be really good for him to be able to have his own space.

“For me, it means I can go to sleep at night without the fear that he is going to choke on something he’s eaten.

“I am so grateful to them.”

Jackie Baillie MSP previously hit out over the delay after it was revealed WDHSCP was sitting on £6million of reserves.

She said: “I very much welcome the intervention from Impact Group UK, but it is shameful that they have had to step in to complete a job that WDHSCP should have carried out in 2020.

“Families with urgent needs should never have to wait years for help and this cannot be allowed to happen again, especially given that the HSCP is sitting on £6m of reserves.

“The HSCP must do the right thing and pay for the work to be carried out and apologize to the McLaughlin family for not helping when they should have intervened.”

A WDHSCP spokeswoman said: “We strive to provide a responsive and efficient service to all of our residents and would again like to apologize to Ms McLaughlin that timescales for these works were impacted by staff absence as a result of the pandemic.

“We will continue to liaise with Ms McLaughlin to provide support and ensure all works to her home are completed as required.”

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George Holan

George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.

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