A FAMILY of eight are sleeping in a TENT after moving out their council house because they couldn’t afford rent.
Stricken Joanne Foster, 33, and her husband Daniel, 32, are raising their six children from the tent in Daniel’s mother’s back garden.
The couple became homeless after falling into rent arrears when they both began suffering from poor health within months of each other and had to rely on benefits.
Council chiefs deemed the family intentionally homeless after they went for help in March of this year. But the family deny this.
They have been living in the tent since August 9, which is housed under an open wooden porch.
Now, the couple say they are concerned for their children’s wellbeing as the winter evenings drawn in and temperatures start to drop.
Joanne told Kent Online: “The mornings at the moment are absolutely freezing. The kids wake up and you can hear the sniffles.
“We don’t know how cold it’s going to get. Pneumonia…it can kill a child.”
We don’t know how cold it’s going to get. Pneumonia…it can kill a child
Mum Joanne Foster
Her mother-in-law’s property only has three bedrooms and is already full so there is no room for the family to sleep inside the house.
Joanne said at first the children treated it like a holiday during the warm weather this summer in Ramsgate, Kent.
She added: “Then the youngest one said, ‘can we go home now?’ It was such a kick to the stomach.”
The youngest child, Marnie, is three years old.
The couple worked until illness and poor mental health struck them both.
Daniel worked as a French polisher at the houses of famous celebrities like George Michael, until he was diagnosed with arthritis in his chest.
He had to quit due to the agonising chest pains, and the family ended up in rent arrears while switching over to the benefits system.
Joanne also had to give up her part-time job as a barmaid because of arthritis in her leg.
She said: “For both of us to get the same particular thing is kind of weird.
The pain is just the worst really. I’d love to be out there working, I really would
“The pain is just the worst really. I’d love to be out there working, I really would.”
Karen Constantine, a councillor with Thanet District Council, said: “The council has failed to provide adequate support for this family.
“I know the housing team are working hard, with rising need, but the Foster family it seems have been let down.
“The children are suffering badly. Thanet District Council needs to act to house them as an emergency.”
The couple applied for homeless relief duty after they could not make up their rent arrears due to their inability to work and the cost of looking after the six children.
Their predicament has been brought to the attention of Anne Longfield, Children’s Commissioner for England.
The council has failed to provide adequate support for this family
Councillor Karen Constantine
She said: “Regardless of the specifics of a case, for children there should be a general and vital principle is that it cannot, in this country, at this time, be right that six of them live in a tent in a garden as their home.
“Children need stable, safe and permanent homes within which not only to live, but to thrive and get the best start in life. A tent does not fulfil that.
“Once families reach a crisis point, there are often a number of things that they and the authority could and should have done earlier to resolve the issue, but at this point this cannot be the end, or even a short term, solution.”
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A Thanet District Council spokesman said: “We cannot comment on individual cases. Where an investigation concludes that a family is intentionally homeless from their last settled address, they are given a reasonable period of time in temporary accommodation to search for alternative accommodation with support of our housing options team.
“There is an independent, external review process of all decisions made by the council in relation to housing applications, which provides a check to ensure that the law is correctly applied in every case.”
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