Romford woman’s unexpected dinner party after broken intercom strands neighbours outside

A Romford woman found herself hosting 13 people for eight hours on Sunday – because a broken intercom had locked all her neighbours out.

Holly Jesson, 32, of Raven Close, returned home at 5pm to find the tenants of the top three flats in her building were stuck outside. As there was an 11-month-old baby among the group, she offered them shelter against the bitter weather conditions – not realising it would be 1.30am when they left.

The impromptu gathering included a young couple and their baby, a mother and her teenage son, and another two women with a seven-year-old - as well as Mrs Jesson’s own family of five.

Mrs Jesson, who creates jewellery displays for Romford shops, said: “It was horrendous. I’ve got three kids of my own aged four, eight and nine and they had school the next day.

“My kids had to have dinner upstairs in their bedroom. I’m expecting the families to be there about an hour – eight hours later they’re still around. People are using the phone. The baby’s crying its eyes out. The mother’s so embarrassed about breastfeeding. Another lady is really embarrassed to be in my house, bless her – she didn’t speak English and didn’t have any money on her.

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“In the end I had no choice but to get a takeaway. I haven’t got food in my house to cook up a meal for 10 people.”

Mrs Jessop said East Thames, the housing association in charge of her building, failed to send an engineer until after midnight – and even then he was unable to solve the problem.

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Eventually, at 1.30am, a resident of the building smashed through the door to allow his neighbours to get home.

A spokesperson from East Thames said: “We would like to apologise to residents at Raven Close who were locked out of their home for several hours on Sunday night.

“Our contractors attended Raven Close within a few hours of the problem being reported but unfortunately they did not have the codes necessary to unlock the digital door entry system, due to technical difficulties with our IT systems.

“We have taken the necessary steps to make sure this won’t happen again.”

But on Wednesday Mrs Jesson said East Thames had not even fixed the glass – or the intercom. “It’s supposedly passed a fire and safety health check,” she said. “There’s no way it should have passed. If that door locks now and there’s a fire I’m going to get burnt down.

“I can’t get over them leaving a baby out there. I didn’t mind them being in my house, but it was highly inconvenient.”

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