UNITED KINGDOM – A 77-year-old Lincolnshire man tells the story of how he lived in his Vauxhall Corsa for 18 months when he did not have a home to go to.
The homeless pensioner slept on the front seats along with his four cats for warmth in winter.
The once proud former businessman who fell on hard times cooked outside all-year-round.
Now he has told his story to highlight how a charity has recently teamed up with local authorities in Lincolnshire to take 224 homeless people off the county’s streets in just over a year.
“Friends of mine used to say you can’t do that – you need to get into a bed and breakfast,” the pensioner stated.
“But I didn’t want to do that. I prefer to be on my own. Besides it wasn’t so bad – I was always warm and dry.
“I’ve always been self-sufficient, never lived on hand-outs and used to run my own shop selling free range eggs, fruit and veg and meat, until I was forced to close due to competing supermarket prices.
“The small pension I had was not enough to pay rent. I have never claimed anything – only my pension.
“I have worked my whole life but you can soon go under. I am now 77 and I have been claiming my pension for a while. It’s not a lot but if you are careful enough you can do a lot with it.
“I now have a walk-in shower and a half step to make it easier for me to get into the house as I’m a little unsteady and more importantly I have nice people who live around me and who are the same age.
“People from P3 used to come and see me and have a chat and if I was asleep they would leave a card on the back window for me to call them.
“They were absolutely brilliant. My key worker has created a folder for me with all my finances – what needs paying, when and how much. Without their help with the paperwork I would not have been able to do any of this on my own.”
Jonny Goldsmith operations manager for P3 stated: “As a service, we face many challenges – challenges that if we worked in isolation we wouldn’t be able to overcome.
“That is why the ongoing support from our partners – and in particular the support offered to us by the Lincolnshire Homelessness Strategy Group, which is made up of all the district councils across Lincolnshire, is something that has been vital to ensure that we are able to be as effective as we have been.
“To help so many people to exit the streets of Lincolnshire in such a short space of time is something that we are rightfully proud of.
“However, we recognize that there is still work to do and we will continue to work closely with all partners to not only help anyone who finds themselves rough sleeping – but ultimately to make sure that no one finds themselves on the streets in the first place.”
Michelle Howard, who is chair of the Lincolnshire Homelessness Strategy Group, stated: “We are pleased to be working closely with P3, we work strategically alongside them to provide homeless prevention, and facilitate access to housing and support services. P3 provide invaluable street outreach to identify rough sleepers, to get them off the streets, access supported housing, and resettlement services to homeless and vulnerable people in Lincolnshire.”
Lincolnshire County Council’s program officer for public health, Daniel Lilley, states: “The street outreach service provided by P3 is instrumental in getting vulnerable rough sleepers off the streets and into accommodation.
“Their multi-agency approach, passionate team and valuable input at a strategic level has helped homeless prevention in Lincolnshire develop and will continue to do so.”