INVERCLYDE'S largest housing provider has been accused of treating people 'like trash' after a mum told how she was ready to kill herself over a flea infestation and dangerous defects in her home.

Bernadette Dykes says that she and her children Sienna, seven, and five-year-old Gary were forced to sleep in a car and wash at a neighbour's house as a result of 'appalling' treatment by River Clyde Homes.

It was only after Ms Dykes, 30, contacted the Tele — and Councillor Colin Jackson — that housing association bosses decided to put the young family up in a hotel and instruct repairs to her flat on Greenock's Grosvenor Road.

She told how she was on the brink of committing suicide while her children were at a relative's house but stopped 'at the last second' when their dad walked in on her.

Ms Dykes — who is on antidepressant medication — said: "I feel like I'm failing as a mum, like I've let my kids down.

"My daughter had been asking if she could bring wee friends back from school and it was heartbreaking for me.

"I got up one morning in May and I thought, 'No', and I had a knife at my heart and if their dad didn't walk into my house when he did I would not be here now."

Councillor Jackson is appalled by Bernadette's case.

He said: "The way RCH treats people is an absolute disgrace — like trash.

"If Bernadette hadn't called me then these children would have spent night after night sleeping in a car and, knowing this was happening, RCH staff were more than willing to let this happen.

"How can these people sleep at night?"

Ms Dykes says she first contacted RCH about defects in her home more than two years ago and that matters had now become 'so bad' she decided that the car was a better, and safer, option.

The young mum said: "There's dampness, the floorboards are snapping, the floors have dropped, the front bedroom ceiling came in, there are holes in the walls.

"The living room door fell off when I went to shut it one night and it hit me on the shoulder."

"There's a big hole in one wall and you can physically put your hand through it and that's where a live wire going to the kitchen light is — you can see it."

Ms Dykes added: "The fleas is a recent thing that they [RCH] tried to blame on our dog and we got rid of him.

"My daughter was heartbroken.

"River Clyde Homes got exterminators in but the fleas are still there — they never came off my dog, they're breeding under the floorboards and I've told them that from day dot."

"I've had two social workers fighting it for me and now I've got Councillor Jackson.

"He said there is no way there's going to be two kids living in a car and that there is no way that I should ever have been left like that."

Bernadette says the family are living out of a bag of clothes and the situation is taking its toll on her health.

She added: "I get my kids washed at my neighbour's.

"I've lost over a stone in weight.

"I was the phone for a full week, begging and pleading and sobbing my heart out with River Clyde Homes."

The Telegraph contacted River Clyde Homes about the case.

Stevie McLachlan, Head of Customer Experience at River Clyde Homes, said: “We have made considerable efforts to support Ms. Dykes and a programme of repairs works commenced on Monday."

He stated that we will continue to work with partner agencies to support Ms Dykes with her tenancy moving forward.