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Family in Bury St Edmunds area feel ‘forgotten’ in West Suffolk Council temporary housing

By: Mariam Ghaemi mariam.ghaemi@iliffepublishing.co.uk

Published: 05:00, 23 October 2023

“I just feel like we have just been dumped and they don’t really care.”

These are the words of a mother, who we are calling Cathy*, who has reached out in desperation over the temporary housing she and two younger relatives have been placed into in the Bury St Edmunds area.

The family, who fled domestic violence, were in three-bed emergency accommodation but say they were given only 24 hours by West Suffolk Council to pack up and move to temporary accommodation, essentially a bedroom in a shared house.

A woman has spoken of living in temporary housing and the impact on her wellbeing. Stock image. Picture: iStock/simonapilolla

Cathy described this housing, where they have been since June, as ‘overcrowded’ – she claims there are 20 people in the house from nine different families – and says she and a family member are having to share a small double bed.

She also says she doesn’t feel safe there, sharing with people she doesn’t know, and claims the property doesn’t have child-safety measures like stair gates.

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Cathy, who works and receives housing benefit that pays the rent, is desperate for a house for the family, but says so far they have had no success on Home-Link, where you can bid for social housing.

In a tearful interview with SuffolkNews, she said: “It’s only been three months, but it feels like a lot longer. We really want to be out by Christmas and we really want to have Christmas around a tree and that sort of stuff.

“I also feel really lucky as we have a roof over our heads and food. I just really want to feel safe in my own place because I haven’t had that.”

Cathy says her mental health has worsened since they moved into this housing, but they are trying to keep each other going, and feels ‘totally broken’.

She also spoke of the struggle to get enough sleep for work, mentioning banging doors, shouting and a child crying.

She added: “There’s nowhere to go to be away from people and to just actually get some peace.

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“There’s always people around and something happening, a noise, and it’s really unsettling, especially when you have got PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder), or something like that. It sets you off again, and mine comes from domestic violence.”

When asked why she doesn’t feel safe at the accommodation, she said it was being with people she doesn’t know as she doesn’t trust anybody following past violent relationships.

She said she had told the council their housing situation ‘isn’t really good enough’ and claims they responded saying ‘it is what it is at the moment, you just have to keep bidding [for a house]’.

“It seems very bleak at the moment and feels like we have been simply dumped and forgotten about,” Cathy added.

A West Suffolk Council spokesman said: “The family were in emergency accommodation - this type of accommodation includes bed and breakfasts and hotels and we use this until we have suitable temporary accommodation for a household to move into.

“When they moved into the temporary accommodation in the Bury St Edmunds area they were in a larger room but asked to be moved downstairs and accepted it was a smaller room.”

They added: “The family have not raised any safety concerns with us.”

Cathy says they needed to be in this room, which is slightly smaller, due to mobility needs.

She also says she had raised safety concerns like a lack of stair gates with the managers of the accommodation.

*Cathy is an alias to protect the family’s identity.

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