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