Kimberley was 34 weeks pregnant when she found out her landlord was selling up. One minute, she and her husband Mark were preparing the home for their new arrival. The next, they were facing the prospect of being homeless.
‘I worried that we might end up with nowhere at all,’ Kimberley told us.
‘Mark broke down the first night we were there. We were in the room and he just said, “I can’t do this.” I had to say – you can do this, it’s all we’ve got.’
‘We ended up being housed in a hostel – all four of us in one room. Several weeks later we were moved again to a tiny room. With no space, we had to eat dinner on the beds. And with a newborn baby, we had to sit in the dark from 8.30pm onwards.
From a hostel to a home
Today, Kimberley and Mark are able to look back on this period as a bad memory. With Shelter’s support, the family eventually moved out of the hostel and into a home where they’re now able to put down roots.
‘This is the first place I’ve ever lived in that I can decorate,’ Kimberley said. ‘It’s rundown, but it’s so ready to be taken care of and made homely. Without Shelter, my children would still be stuck with nowhere to call home.
‘I rang Shelter’s helpline at every stage, and the advisers I spoke to gave me the confidence to get through the process and understand my rights. I’ve met a lot of others going through this situation and told them to call Shelter.’
Britain’s hidden homeless
Unfortunately, Kimberley’s story isn’t uncommon. Last year, our emergency helpline supported 7,000 people who needed help finding a home, many of them stuck in cramped, overcrowded hostels. That’s why, as well as giving free and expert housing advice, we also campaign for five-year rental contracts. Because no one should be kicked out of their home at short notice.