Woman, 34, is forced to live in a TENT in the woods

Woman, 34, is forced to live in a TENT in the woods after losing her job at McDonald’s left her unable to afford her £100-a-week rent

  • Melissa Norman is currently living with her partner in a tent in Torquay, Devon 
  • She lost her job after being furloughed from McDonald’s and couldn’t pay rent 
  • Ms Norman claimed Torbay Council ‘not willing to help’ when she asked for help 

A woman has been forced to live in a tent in the woods after losing her job at McDonald’s meant she could no longer pay her £100-a-week rent.  

Melissa Norman, 34, is currently living with her partner inside a tent in Torquay, Devon, after she was asked to leave the hostel she was living in.

Ms Norman, who lost her job after being furloughed from McDonald’s, said Torbay Council was initially ‘not willing to help’ her because she was not homeless when she informed them of her imminent circumstances.

She had been working at the fast food chain for over a year and had moved into a local hostel where she was paying £100 per week to live.

Pictured: Melissa Norman, 34, who is currently living with her partner in a tent in Torquay, Devon

Ms Norman said: ‘I moved into the hostel just before lockdown. I then got furloughed and lost my job at McDonald’s and didn’t have enough money to carry on paying the rent.’

She rang Torbay Council the day before she had to be out of the hostel, informing them of the situation.

Ms Norman said: ‘Because I was housed at the time when I told them, they are not willing to help me.

‘I have been in a tent for over a week. The council have told me I am on a waiting list but it could take up to one year to house me.

‘I’ve worked since I was 16 years old, paid all of my taxes. I think it is disgusting.’

Since sleeping rough, Ms Norman said she had seen an increase in homeless people, with six new faces on the streets.

Ms Norman added: ‘The council need to open their eyes and put money into community centres, there is nowhere to even drop into to have a shower.

‘It is not just me this is a wider problem. How can anyone get out of this situation when there is little help.’

Ms Norman, who lost her job after being furloughed from McDonald’s, said Torbay Council was ‘not willing to help’ her because she was not homeless when she informed them of her imminent circumstances. Pictured: A sign outside her tent

A spokesperson for Torbay Council said: ‘We are seeing a huge increase in demand for our Housing Options service and our team are working extremely hard to secure temporary accommodation for those who need it.’ 

In order to get food and winter provisions, Ms Norman has been relying on People Assisting Torbay’s Homeless (PATH), a local community group which helps those at risk of homelessness or people who are vulnerable or in crisis.

PATH founder, Kath Friedrich, said there had been an increase in homelessness following the outbreak of coronavirus.

Ms Friedrich said: ‘People are coming to us in eye-watering numbers. 

‘Torbay Council have a number you can call if you are going to be homeless, but when you ring nothing really happens until someone can verify that you are actually on the streets, so that person will end up sleeping rough. It can take a while.

‘It is getting colder and we have no winter provision as of yet.

‘Normally, we would get sleeping bags from festivals such as Glastonbury, but with festivals cancelled this year we have none.’

Councillor Christine Carter, cabinet member for corporate and community services at Torbay Council, said: ‘In common with most areas of the country, due to the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic, we are seeing a huge increase in demand for our Housing Options service and our team are working extremely hard to secure temporary accommodation for those who need it.

‘We anticipate greater numbers seeking assistance with homelessness in the near future once the greater economic impact of the pandemic is felt and courts start processing possession claims again.

‘We aim to be able to ensure that nobody has to be sleeping rough this winter in severe weather, and will once again be activating our Severe Weather Emergency Protocol which is used when severe weather is forecast and provides emergency accommodation.

‘We have also recently published advice on our website for people who are worried about losing their home.’

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