I was homeless with a one-year-old: My Wigan Pier Story

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As part of our Wigan Pier 80 project, eight decades after the publication of George Orwell’s essay, mum Helen Anderson explains her housing nightmare

Helen Anderson and her four children – including a one-year-old – were sent to live in temporary hotel accommodation in Stoke-on-Trent, 45 miles away from their Birmingham home after fleeing domestic abuse. Here the 43-year-old tells Claire Donnelly why she, and traumatised families like hers, need better support.

In November 2017 I had to leave my home in Birmingham. I didn’t have any choice, we had to be safe, but I had nowhere to go.

I thought the council might be able to help me.

My children were 19, 14, six and one so I was really very worried.

I went to the council at 9am and was there all day. At eight o’clock that night they gave me a piece of paper telling me where to go. I drove there. It was a two-hour drive to Stoke on Trent, many miles from our home, from school, from everything we knew.

When we arrived it was a Travelodge hotel, there was nowhere I could cook or heat food and milk for the baby so I wasn’t sure how I was going to manage.

The lady on reception told me we were booked in for 21 days. I was grateful for somewhere to stay but I couldn’t see how this would work.

The next day I drove back to Birmingham to take the children to school. I couldn’t afford to spend petrol on keep driving back so I waited in the car and in the shopping centre with the baby all day until it was time to pick them up again.

I didn’t have much money but we were having to eat out as we didn’t have any cooking facilities.

We were getting cheaper things, like pizza and chips, which aren’t good for you and I had to ask if I could heat things for the baby while we were out.

My car was full of all of our stuff, my high chair and baby things, so we were having to move stuff around to use the car.

We felt very isolated and cut off. I wasn’t used to driving long distances or on the motorway so I was scared all the time.

I didn’t have much money but we were having to eat out as we didn’t have any cooking facilities.

We were getting cheaper things, like pizza and chips, which aren’t good for you and I had to ask if I could heat things for the baby while we were out.

My car was full of all of our stuff, my high chair and baby things, so we were having to move stuff around to use the car.

We felt very isolated and cut off. I wasn’t used to driving long distances or on the motorway so I was scared all the time.

 

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We are retracing the journey George Orwell made in his book, The Road to Wigan Pier, throughout 2018 to tell modern stories of working and unemployed poverty.

 

Source:www.mirror.co.uk

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