A woman is living in the woods after struggling to pay her rent when she lost her job at McDonald’s.
Melissa Norman, 34, was asked to leave the hostel she was living in as she could no longer pay her rent and she’s currently living in a tent in Torbay, Devon, with her partner.
She claims the council are “not willing to help” as she was not homeless when she informed them of the imminent circumstances, Devon Live reports.
Melissa lost her job after being furloughed from McDonald’s in Torquay – she had been working there for over a year.
She had moved into a local hostel where she was paying £100 per week to live just before lockdown.
Melissa rang Torbay Council the day before she had to be out of the hostel, informing them of the situation.
She claimed: “Because I was housed at the time when I told them, they are not willing to help me.
“I have been in a tent for over a week.
“The council have told me I am on a waiting list but it could take up to one year to house me.
“I’ve worked since I was 16-years-old, paid all of my taxes. I think it is disgusting.”
Since becoming homeless, Melissa said she has seen an increase in homeless people, with six new faces on the streets.
She adds: “The council need to open their eyes and put money into community centres, there is nowhere to even drop into to have a shower.
“It is not just me this is a wider problem. How can anyone get out of this situation when there is little help.”
A spokesperson for Torbay Council said: “We are seeing a huge increase in demand for our Housing Options service and our team are working extremely hard to secure temporary accommodation for those who need it.”
In order to get food and winter provisions, Melissa has been relying on PATH, a local community group which helps those at risk of homelessness, or who are vulnerable or in crisis.
Charity founder Kath Friedrich said there has been an increase in homelessness following the outbreak of coronavirus.
She said: “People are coming to us in eye-watering numbers.
“Torbay Council have a number you can call if you are going to be homeless, but when you ring nothing really happens until someone can verify that you are actually on the streets, so that person will end up sleeping rough. It can take a while.
“It is getting colder and we have no winter provision as of yet.
“Normally, we would get sleeping bags from festivals such as Glastonbury, but with festivals cancelled this year we have none.”
Councillor Christine Carter, Cabinet Member for Corporate and Community Services, said: “In common with most areas of the country, due to the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic, we are seeing a huge increase in demand for our Housing Options service and our team are working extremely hard to secure temporary accommodation for those who need it.
“We anticipate greater numbers seeking assistance with homelessness in the near future once the greater economic impact of the pandemic is felt and courts start processing possession claims again.
“We aim to be able to ensure that nobody has to be sleeping rough this winter in severe weather, and will once again be activating our Severe Weather Emergency Protocol which is used when severe weather is forecast and provides emergency accommodation.
“We have also recently published advice on our website for people who are worried about losing their home.”