real fix
GeneralMust ReadDisabled Elderly Couple Who Were Refused Council Accommodation Say They Had To Live In A Public Toilet

Disabled Elderly Couple Who Were Refused Council Accommodation Say They Had To Live In A Public Toilet

A disabled elderly couple who were refused council accommodation say they had to live in a public toilet.

Thomas, 75, and his wheelchair-bound wife Kathleen Vinall, 70, spent a month sleeping in the toilets before being evicted – by the council that had made them homeless.

The couple now say they have been refused council accommodation after switching to sleeping in their Ford Focus instead.

Both suffer from a string of health problems and Kathleen uses a wheelchair.

The married couple slept rough in the toilets in Sheerness, Kent, before being ordered out by Swale Council.

Thomas, a former panel-beater, dustman and long-distance lorry driver. has a long list of health problems including angina and arthritis and has suffered two strokes.

Kathleen is in a wheelchair after having her legs crushed in a road accident three years ago.

During the last cold spell the pair were given emergency accommodation in two Premier Inns in Medway, a house in Gillingham and Sittingbourne in Kent.

But now the couple, who have been married for 13 years, are back on the streets of Sheerness, sleeping rough and say they have no close family.

Thomas, from Stepney Green in East London, said: “We have sleeping bags and wrap up in jumpers and coats to keep warm.

“We have tried to find private accommodation but landlords expect a month’s rent as security plus a month’s rent up front. We just don’t have that type of money.”

Kathleen, from Portsmouth, Hants., said: “We were offered one place which had 30 steps but I couldn’t climb them.”

The couple’s car is now off the road and in a garage owned by Thomas’s brother in Dunstable, Kent.

A council spokesman said officers had tried to help the couple previously after they were evicted from social housing in 2014.

A Swale council spokesman said: “We have worked with this couple on a number of occasions since they lost their social housing tenancy in 2014 due to their landlord obtaining a re-possession order.

“When assessing if someone is homeless, and whether we have a duty to find them accommodation, we have to consider the reasons why a person has lost their accommodation.

“In this case, despite not having a duty to offer them temporary accommodation, we chose to do so in the hope that we could help them find a long-term solution.

“Unfortunately, they were asked to leave the accommodation we arranged and we were left with no choice but to end our discretionary duty to provide temporary accommodation.

“Despite this, we have continued to work with other agencies who have been working to try to find a long-term solution which has included the offer of residential care for Mrs Vinall from Kent social services.”



Get Your Fix

Sign up to get your fix of real life delivered directly to your inbox! We hate spam and promise we'll only use your email address to send you great stuff from Real-Fix.

Follow Us


Contact us

Media Centre, Emma-Chris Way, Filton, Bristol, Avon, BS34 7JU

Back to Top
Like us on Facebook for regular updates and access to exclusive content and competitions: