A mum and dad have been forced to live in a tent for more than a month with their six children because the council refused to find them a home.
Joanne Foster said her children, who are aged between three and 14, wake up “absolutely freezing” after they pitched up the tent last month.
The 33-year-old has been raising her family with her husband Daniel Foster, 32, in his mother’s back garden in Ramsgate, Kent.
The couple became homeless after falling ill and struggling to pay their bills when they switched over to benefits.
Joanne raised concerns over their children’s wellbeing and said she would happily accept a two-bedroom house or even a one-bedroom to put a roof over their heads.
Children Kaitlyn, 14, Kayden, 12, Lexi, ten, Logan, eight, Frankie, four and Marnie, three now sleep in a tent with their parents on their nan’s patio.
Joanne said: “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.
“It’s horrible knowing that instead of going into their beds, they have got to go into a tent.
“Putting them to bed in a tent – there are just no words at all.
“Getting them ready for school out of a tent has been an absolute nightmare because they used to take so long anyway.
“So trying to get them up and getting them ready with breakfast – waking up and it’s cold as well – it’s not nice at all.
“It’s disgusting. Their human rights have been taken away from them and they haven’t done anything wrong.”
Dad Daniel worked as a French polisher at the houses of A-list celebs such as George Michael until he was diagnosed with arthritis.
He had to quit due to chest pains and the family fell behind with their rent when switching over to the benefits system.
Within a few months, Joanne also had to quit her part-time job as a barmaid due to arthritis in her leg.
Joanne said: “My husband was working, had a brilliant job.
“We were both really happy just plodding along, we didn’t have any worries.
She added: “The pain is just the worst really. I’d love to be out there working, I really would.
“Everything just got so behind that we just couldn’t get out of that situation, as much as we tried we just couldn’t.”
Thanet District Council deemed the family intentionally homeless after they asked for help in March.
They have been living in a tent pitched under a wooden porch in Daniel’s mum’s back garden while the council search for emergency housing.
Joanne said: “They say because my eldest daughter is 14 she’s got to have her own room.
“But she hates sleeping on her own anyway so I’d happily take a three-bedroom house.
“I’ve got three girls and three boys and they’ve all shared rooms.
“I’d even take a two-bedroom and sleep in the front room – anything will do just to put a roof over my kids especially when it’s getting colder.
“Even a one-bedroom – just anything that I can put my kids into.”
Thanet District Councillor Karen Constantine said the family have been let down and the children are suffering badly.
She 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.”
Joanne and Daniel applied for homeless relief duty after they realised they could not make up their rent arrears due to their inability to work and the cost of looking after six children.
According to Joanne, social services only visited after Cllr Constantine enquired about the case and that they were not concerned about the welfare of the children, adding “the kids are happy, we don’t need to work with you.”
Kent County Council, which runs social services for the area, was unable to comment on the case.
The issue has now been brought to the attention of Anne Longfield, Children’s Commissioner for England.
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.”
A Thanet District Council spokesperson 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.”