When Chris called the helpline he and his partner Emily had spent the last night sleeping in a park with their newborn baby Jack. They were terrified for Jack’s health, but with no other options they had nowhere else to go.
Spending a night out in the cold is something that should never happen to anyone, let alone a family with a newborn baby. We sadly get lots of calls from families with no permanent home but this was a particularly extreme case.
When I heard their story I was so worried for them. Chris and Emily had left the hospital the night before. Jack had been two months premature and had spent three weeks in intensive care before he was strong enough to be discharged.
While they were at the hospital Chris had contacted the council for support knowing they had nowhere to stay, but he’d heard nothing back. The demand at the council was so high that when Chris called he was told there were no appointments for two weeks. Like many others who come to Shelter, Chris and Emily had run out of options and had no relatives or friends who could help.
Chris and Emily badly needed a place to stay and we needed to act fast. The first thing we did was to find them somewhere safe for that night while we investigated their case.
Gathering all the information from Chris was crucial. Once we had this our solicitor Sarah could put together a strong case. Sarah called the council and made it clear they had a legal obligation to find a home for Chris, Emily and Jack. Finally the council agreed to find them temporary accommodation and look into their homelessness application. It was quite a process, but we fought their case hard and the law was on our side. Since then, with our support, Chris and Emily have finally found a permanent home where they can bring up their baby in safety.
Taking baby Jack home should have been a happy time for Chris and Emily but it turned into a situation that no parent should have to face. Luckily we were there to help and support them and I hope we can be there to do the same for anyone in a situation like theirs in future.
If you’re worried about finding yourself homeless or need advice for someone else you can find more on our advice pages – see information on help from the council when homeless and emergency housing advice. For more see our homeless or at risk section.