Homeless pensioner advised to buy a tent

By Emily Pearce

Monday, June 3, 2013


Homeless pensioner advised to buy a tent

Dawn Martin has been sleeping in a tent, after becoming homeless. Picture by Laura Holmes.

UPDATED 17:16*

A PENSIONER has resorted to camping on a path, after Isle of Wight Council officials told her she was not entitled to emergency housing and advised her to buy a tent instead.

Dawn Martin, 62, said she had visited County Hall constantly to ask for help since she had to leave her winter-let apartment three weeks ago, but has been told cannot be housed because she does not meet the criteria.

"I've filled in so many forms I've lost count but the council say they can't do anything. They say I'm not vulnerable enough.

"I think the way I've been treated is diabolical. I don't know how they can say a 62-year-old woman camping alone at night isn't vulnerable. I can't afford to stay at a campsite,"she said.

She has been 'sofa-surfing' with friends and family, staying in bed and breakfasts when she can afford it and camping on cliff paths.

After spending another weekend in the tent, Mrs Martin said today (Monday): "I know some people will think it is my own fault I'm in this situation, but I wanted to highlight that this a problem for other people.

"For some people there is no safety net. I thought that for someone of my age there would be some kind of buffer, some kind of emergency help for a week or two while I got on my feet."

Mrs Martin was told she could apply for a crisis loan for food and rent, and hoped she might receive money for bed and breakfast accommodation, but was instead advised to buy a tent.

She said: "The man I spoke to offered me vouchers for food and a basic tent. I thought he was joking.

"I can't stay with friends and family. I've been independent all my life and this really hurts. I'm trying to rent privately but landlords want a deposit or rent up front, which I don't have," she said.

An Isle of Wight Council spokesman said the criteria for assistance was set by the government to prioritise those in greatest need and Mrs Martin had been given advice on accommodation options.

The spokesman said: "We did, as a last resort and which we accept is far from ideal, offer her vouchers with which she could, at the very least, buy a tent as a temporary shelter."

Mrs Martin has now been asked for additional information to see if the council could meet the the cost of bed and breakfast accommodation, which it understood Mrs Martin had been using.

*An Isle of Wight Council spokesman said this afternoon (Monday) that they had found Mrs Martin temporary accommodation that did not require a deposit.

Reporter: emilyp@iwcpmail.co.uk


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Displaying the last 10 of 34 comments - Show All Comments

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by Paul Wainwright

5th June 2013, at 22:13:14

Plenty of churches and church properties on the Island which are locked up most days of the week where homeless people could be allowed to stay.

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by Russell Palin

4th June 2013, at 17:57:23

Hope we don't start finding people camping in silly places again. Costs the council loads to move people on.

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by Mr Elliott

4th June 2013, at 15:30:03

I've read on multiple news sites that she refused the tent.

This is the quote used on many other sites:
"During our discussions with her we did - as a last resort and which we accept is far from ideal - offer her vouchers with which she could, at the very least, buy a tent as a temporary shelter but she declined this."

So why have the IWCP missed off the last bit?

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by Jeanette Prince

4th June 2013, at 10:58:24

I have to agree with Keith. If people choose to rent winter let only properties they cannot automatically have the right to be re-housed at the end of it. Everyone in privately rented accommodation would do it! Sorry, this lady knew what she was doing.

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by Peter Lewis

4th June 2013, at 10:32:30

I've seen one or two comments on here saying her problem is she is British (or English) but nowhere in the article does it actually say that.

It's amazing what conclusions people jump to based on a picture.

I do wonder if people would make the same assumption if she was not white and wearing a face veil, doubt it.

I think there is more lurking in this story than a simple case of white English pensioner cannot get home because of all those awful immigrants from the EEC.

BUT, there should be SOME safety net in place. No one should be asked to sleep in a tent (unless of course they want to).

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by Don Prescott

4th June 2013, at 09:25:54

This "story" has now made the national news and is being discussed on LBC Radio this morning.

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by David Blackford

4th June 2013, at 07:56:01

I tend to agree with Tim, Dawn could find work in hotel or care which are always advertising. Also, I'm surprised that her family do not rally to her aid.

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by Ricki Parrott

4th June 2013, at 00:26:18

Must be nice to sit in a high palace and make comments like that Sarah, people who keep banging out kids just for houses and more money deserve everything? Or when a new building scheme is done on the island it gets filled up with people from the mainland when islanders need housing? I think people who are in an ok situation shouldnt snoot down on those who arent. Life can turn on you too :P

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by Steve Williams

4th June 2013, at 00:08:33

Isle of Wight Council mission statement "Raising Standards, Creating Opportunities"
Regardless of the ladies circumstances, surely everyone is entitled to shelter?

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by Russell Palin

3rd June 2013, at 23:37:05

I know what Mr Bush meant when he said "New world order" now.
Does this mean refugee type camp sites springing up here and there?
It will look great for the tourists. Tents in the corner of parks and tucked away near the back of the beach huts. Rags and rubbish strewn everywhere. Don't forget the burning oil drums meths bottles and needles.
Tent = Insult of the lowest order. Very bad PR indeed.

Any views or opinions presented in the comments above are solely those of the author and do not represent those of the Isle of Wight County Press.

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