Homeless family's caravan plight

HOMELESS Brian and Tracy Heppell and their five children are today facing a nightmare search for a home – and may have to make do with a caravan.

set with stories "ROBWARD" (file pic) and "TRAPPED"

HOMELESS Brian and Tracy Heppell and their five children are today facing a nightmare search for a home – and may have to make do with a caravan.

But this will be no holiday.

For the authorities say a caravan site is currently the only place they can offer the family – who are currently moving from place to place each day, sleeping on friends' floors – as there are no houses or bed and breakfast available.

To make matters worse, the five-berth 16ft long touring caravan is one the family already owns and they must bring it down from Great Yarmouth to a Suffolk camp site.

They are not the only people in such a situation, with a new culture of sofa-hopping creating an "invisible homeless" problem and one which the authorities are struggling to solve.

Most Read

"We were astonished – we could not believe it when they said live in a caravan. My wife just said 'no way'," said Mr Heppell.

"It's not big enough for us all to stay in – we have five children.

"At the moment we are using it to store our belongings as we have nowhere to live and nowhere to put anything. It's full to the brim.

"We cannot get it to Suffolk anyway. All we want is somewhere proper to live and be settled."

Mr Heppell, 42, and his wife Tracey, 34, became homeless just before Christmas when their landlord wanted his property empty.

They claim Suffolk Coastal advised them to seek a court stay of execution – which the council strenuously denies – which then had the effect of making the family technically "intentionally homeless" when they were forced to leave.

Initially, Mr and Mrs Heppell and their five children – Kelly, 14, Katie, 13, Tony, 12, Cody, ten, and Toby, seven – were put into bed and breakfast accommodation in an Ipswich hotel for 28 days.

But because they were classed as intentionally homeless, there was nothing more Suffolk Coastal could do for them.

"We have been staying with friends, moving from one to another, and family, but it's not been ideal – because there are seven of us we are just making everyone's homes cramped," said Mr Heppell.

"Our biggest problem is that so many landlords need rent up. Housing benefit will pay the rent but not the deposit and we just cannot afford £800.

"The Coastal Homeless Action Group have been wonderful and helping us as much as they can. Social services have also been trying to find a solution but then they said they had tried everything and all we could do was move our caravan to Hasketon and they would pay for a site there."

A spokeswoman for Suffolk County Council's social care department said: "We are unable to discuss individual cases in detail. However, we are working extremely hard in partnership with other agencies to help this family find suitable permanent accommodation quickly.

"As part of that process, various temporary solutions have been discussed but we are hopeful that the matter will be resolved as soon as possible."

Become a Supporter

This newspaper has been a central part of community life for many years. Our industry faces testing times, which is why we're asking for your support. Every contribution will help us continue to produce local journalism that makes a measurable difference to our community.

Become a Supporter