Angela lives in Bristol with her five-year-old son Kardinell. She is training to be a teaching assistant. After five happy years in her home, she received a Section 21 eviction notice from her landlord. Now that her notice period has expired, bailiffs will arrive imminently to remove her.
I know we have to leave but I wanted a smooth transition; I wanted to say to my son that we are moving to this flat or that house. That is what normal people get to do. I don’t have that certainty.
This uncertainty couldn’t contrast more with the life we’ve had these past five years. We have built a community base here, we have a garden and a stable home, heating and water.
My son has friends that he plays with, we look out for each other in this community.
When the bailiff’s warrant comes through, I will be placed into temporary housing by the council. This could mean a stay of between three and six weeks in a B&B or a hostel. I don’t know where that will be.
I’m bidding for a property via HomeChoice. I hope I can get a bid soon. I’d take anything. I know there are thousands of people on the waiting list and I understand they’re experiencing the same thing as me, but being in this position is still scary.
Before Kardinell was born, I was homeless as a result of domestic violence. I spent three years sofa surfing as I had no family in the area that could help. It was then that Bristol City Council referred me to Shelter.
I was about to give birth and felt unsafe in my own home. I desperately needed a nest. I don’t think I would have got accommodation as quickly without Shelter.
For me, home is the start of everything. You’ve got an address so you can get a job, you can get a life and a community base. For my son it’s just as important. In his room he has built a fortress, his hideaway. I am so worried about him and how this will affect him.
I can’t plan anything for the future not knowing where I’m going to be. My debt history means that I can’t get a loan or get a deposit.
I’d previously struggled a lot with money. For starters, the rent was more than I could afford. I didn’t need a three bedroom property, but it was all that was available so I tried to manage.
I was constantly in fear of the bailiffs knocking on my door for bills that I simply couldn’t afford to pay. I had to beg utility companies to accept the money I could afford.
I made the step to go back to work, which, before my son went to school was really difficult. I wanted to try and facilitate myself. I don’t go out or have any luxuries except my car which is essential as my son’s school is over ten miles away.
Shelter has helped me to advocate and get monies I was entitled to. I had no idea that I was entitled to like a maternity grant to buy a buggy or a cot.
They referred me to a furniture company for £15 I picked five bits of furniture which I didn’t have. I didn’t expect to get that help.
That was gratefully appreciated. This was all because of Shelter- I wouldn’t have got anything from anyone without someone from Shelter helping me.
I knew they gave advice, but I didn’t realise the services that they can provide. From helping me with paperwork, talking through my problems, checking that my eviction notice was legal to helping me enrol into the TREE scheme (Training Recreation Education Employment). It made me feel like a normal human being.
I don’t think I have had as much help from an agency as much as Shelter. They’ve made a big difference: the way they helped me and the way they made me feel about myself and helping me communicate to others what I needed
I was working whilst I was pregnant and I didn’t realise I was entitled to certain help from the government at that time. Asking for help is important.
I’ve tried to explain our situation the best way I can to Kardinell and I am going to try be as positive I can because of my little boy. I want him to be positive about every change; but Kardinell has had five years of stability which is about to go.
I don’t know how he will deal with this level of change.
Angela’s advice for people facing homelessness:
Alright, it’s not a great situation to be in, but it won’t always be the same outcome for everybody.
- Get your paperwork in order. The sooner you do, the sooner you know where you stand.
- Act on every letter you receive. How will the council or a court be able to do anything about it or know the severity of your situation otherwise?
- Keep a note of dates, times, anything you do, otherwise people will say no contact was made. Take names, get proof. If you’re doing it yourself and a housing advice worker steps in then at least they will see your efforts and use to say: ‘My client has done this, this and this.’
- Homelessness isn’t an inevitability for everyone and you can influence the outcome. Be active and persistent. Don’t grind the council down and get angry, the more that you actively try, the better it is for you in the long run.
Call Shelter’s free housing helpline on 0808 800 4444 if you are at risk of losing your home.
Our expert advisers will help and support you no matter what your situation is. Our helpline is open every day but it does get busy. It is usually easier to get through between 8-9am and 7-8pm.
Today’s government stats show a 47% rise in renters evicted by bailiffs since housing benefit cuts were introduced in 2011. Relentless rent rises and welfare cuts have contributed to thousands of families losing their home. Angela’s is one of them.
Posted by Shelter on Thursday, 13 August 2015