Three generations

Shelter turns 50 this year. We speak to Roger, 74, his daughter Lou, 44 and her son Jasper 19 about their housing histories.

Shelter, Lou and her father & son, Surrey Copyright © 2016 Kayte Brimacombe +44(0) 7801930456. Email

Roger, Lou and  Jasper




My mother lived in the same rented house all her life. She was born there, and when she married my father, they took it over. She stayed there until the day she died at 80 years old, she never lived anywhere else. They must have paid for the house several times over through their rent payments.

We were very poor, so my father could never make that step up to get a mortgage. He worked on a building site. We lived hand to mouth, we put cardboard in our shoes to make them last longer.

When I got married, it never really crossed my mind that we might be able to buy.

Then my wife heard from a friend that the council gave out mortgages. We had no savings, but we applied, and they granted us a mortgage.  It wasn’t enough but the people we bought from let us repay the last £250 over a few years!

When we realised we were going to be able to buy our own home we were cock-a-hoop, we never thought it would happen and when it happened, well, words can’t describe. We knew that the first rung of the housing ladder was the biggest one.

We progressed from there and moved on to a slightly bigger house. Our housing costs were affordable.  I worked for the post office.  My basic money wasn’t great but I had opportunities to earn quite a bit of overtime.  I used to work 12 hour days most of the time to pay for the mortgage, especially once I had the three children.  I used to work 12 hours a day six days a week and sometimes Sunday mornings as well!

But because of that situation all those years ago, I’m now comfortably housed, I’ve got a nice little bungalow in a cul de sac, no mortgage.

Having a long term home gave us family stability that was the main thing. We were far from the perfect family, we had problems like many families do, but we had that stability, that’s the foundation of everything really.  I think if you’ve got stability in a home that makes up for a hell of a lot.


Shelter, Lou and her father & son, Surrey Copyright © 2016 Kayte Brimacombe +44(0) 7801930456. Email

I have very clear memories of that first house we lived in. I remember my sister and I had a playroom in the back, but of course when my brother came along we lost that!  It was a small house that first one but it was home.

We moved to a slightly bigger house when I was 5. It’s a bit of a shock when you move when you are five as you realise that life can just suddenly change.

My Dad was very fastidious in the way he looked after our house. He reroofed it, got new windows, central heating, and even changed the front door.  He did everything properly, without going into debt.

I never questioned the fact it was home. It was just there.  Mum and Dad were there and that’s it.  It never crossed our minds that we might lose the home or we might have to move, it was just home.  It was lovely.

When I left home I rested on my laurels. I just went out partying and didn’t plan for the future at all.  I never thought about it.  I initially lived in a nurses home and then I rented places with friends.

When I had my son, Jasper, I was renting with my boyfriend, my brother and a friend. The flat had a mouldy bathroom and for some reason this woman from the council turned up on my doorstep and said she needed to assess my housing needs. Because I was living with non-family members and because of the mouldy bathroom and my asthma, I got bumped right up the list and got a council place, where I lived on my own with Jasper after splitting with my boyfriend.

Several years later I met my husband, and we had our daughter Molly. The flat was far too small for all four of us so we moved to another council house, on an estate which was one of the first mixed projects, so you had million pounds houses built alongside council houses. We were really crammed in and also it did become a bit them and us.  We decided to move and did a council house swap, and we lived in that last council house for five years.

Then my husband and I split. Everyone told me I couldn’t move out but I had to, the relationship was over.  I rented a small flat with my children.  I thought I would fight for the house when I got out, but that didn’t happen.

The flat was nice, and I was able to afford it. But my daughter had to share a bed with me.  As she got bigger we had to move to a bigger place.  We were there eight months and then the landlady wanted the place back because she had been living in Greece, and the Greek economy collapsed and she wanted to come back to England, so she served me a section 21 eviction notice.

I moved to another place owned by a couple who lived in Spain. Exactly the same thing happened, they came back to England and I had to move. The roof was leaking and there was damp and they tried to take my rent deposit, so I had to fight to get it back.

Then while I was living in the next place, I started to really struggle. I was working full time and I was paying back an overpayment of housing benefit, over £200 a month, and it just tipped me over the edge.  I couldn’t manage any more.  I wasn’t covering my living costs at all, the stress was horrific and I knew we were just about to plummet over a cliff edge.

I was seeing someone and he suggested that we come and live with him. But it was a rash move, it was a new relationship and it didn’t work out, so we had to move out.  Jasper and I ended up sofa surfing, while Molly lived at her dad’s.  Jasper and I would meet up occasionally and buy each other food and coffee!  It was awful to put Jasper in that situation, and it also deeply upset Molly.  I worked the entire time even though I was homeless.

I’m now in a one bedroom flat again. My daughter now lives with her Dad because there’s no room for her here.  We see each other all the time but it does impact me not living with her.  I find it very difficult at times, like I’ve failed her.

I feel like I’ve failed my son Jasper a lot with our housing situation. He’s 19 now and has recently moved to his boss’s brother’s house, where he is renting a room.

Read Lou’s first Shelter Story.



I decided to move out of Mum’s flat because I was getting a bad back through sleeping on the sofa. I’m an apprentice tree surgeon.  I love the work, but it doesn’t pay much, so my options are limited.

First of all I rented a log cabin in this woman’s garden. It was really nice, quite cold, but nice.  It was £450 a month but only Monday to Friday so at the weekends I was having to stay with mates and stuff and having to get over there for work.  There was no cooker so I was living off microwaved meals.  It didn’t feel good.

Then my boss mentioned his brother had a room to rent. It’s a nice sized room in a big farmhouse.  I have the whole of the upstairs of the house to myself, with a big bathroom and stuff. And I’m able to get a lift to work from there.  I feel that I’ve really fallen on my feet.

I would love to get on the property ladder and buy my own place, but it’s not looking likely. It’s on my mind a lot – and for my mates as well.  They’re all in the same situation, apprentices on low wages, all wanting to move out of the parents’ homes, but none of them can afford it.

Having a long term home would be the best thing that could happen for me, but I can’t imagine it happening.

Shelter gives free housing advice.

Visit our advice pages or call our helpline on 0808 800 4444  if you are at risk of eviction.

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