Star Hobson's great granddad slams social services' failure
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A woman believed to have died in November 2017 in her social housing in Woking, Surrey was not discovered until almost four years later. Laura Winham, 38, lived in social housing and was found in a mummified state years after her death. The cause of death has not been established and she was only identifiable by authorities through dental records.
Laura suffered from schizophrenia and was left without welfare checks by social services and mental health professionals.
She was also born with Goldenhar Syndrome which curves the spine and underwent a major heart operation aged 18, and was later sectioned twice.
MailOnline reported that she was not checked on for nearly four years and due to family rows over her health issues, they were not in regular contact.
It was decided that professionals would be in charge of her care after family contact caused Laura “enormous strain”, her sister Nicky said.
She added: “She believed all these voices in her head which were turning her against us, her own family.”
When police found Laura’s body in her flat in May 2021, they found her calendar with a note saying, “I need help” written just before her death.
Laura’s mother and brother Roy called officers and asked them to break into her flat in Surrey after Roy believed he saw a foot when he peered through the letterbox.
Her sister said: “We always hoped she would get better with professional help and that one day our contact would resume.
“We never believed, for one second, we would end up finding her dead on her floor having laid there for so long without anyone knowing.”
Her gas and electric bills continued to be paid via housing benefits after her death and a gas safety check was logged.
In 2014, she was recommended for mental health treatment by staff at her housing association who noticed she was “unwell, quite thin, and had said she had no friends and believed people were watching her”.
In 2016, Laura’s Disability Living Allowance was halted when she did not respond to Department of Work and Pensions letters.
Social services were later alerted by police in 2017 that Laura was in a state of “self-neglect”.
Contact was never made with Laura by authorities after they could not get through to speak to her, so her case was closed. It is thought her death was just weeks later.
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Nicky said that social services “let Laura down” and added that “everyone seems to have turned a blind eye2
She said: “Laura has been so badly let down. It’s just heart-breaking to think of how she lived in her last few years, unable to ask for help, without anyone there for her, it’s just tragic.
“There were so many warning signs, from the social care and mental health teams to her landlords, yet everyone seems to have turned a blind eye.”
In response, Surrey County Council said: “This is a truly tragic case, and our sympathies and deepest condolences are with Laura’s family and friends.
“It’s important that every aspect of this complex case is reviewed, and we’re committed to participating fully in the inquest process.
“This will include providing any information that is needed to support the coroner’s enquiries.”
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