Homeless champion delighted as young couple finally have shelter

Simon Crowson, known to all as Spike, runs 50 BackPacks in Wisbech,

Simon Crowson, known to all as Spike, runs 50 BackPacks in Wisbech.. Picture; HARRY RUTTER - Credit: Archant

Homeless champion Simon ‘Spike’ Crowson thanked the community and Fenland District Council for putting a roof back over the head of a young couple.  

Mr Crowson, who runs 50 Backpacks Vision, is delighted the council has stepped back in to help Adam, 21, and Nicola, 19, (not their real names) after a tumultuous week that spared them being back on the street.  

Fenland Council had paid for two nights' accommodation at the Rose & Crown, Wisbech, but according to the couple and Mr Crowson, had refused further help without a reason.   

Mr Crowson then paid for a further night whilst he began making phone calls and intervening on their behalf.  

Now, after several telephone calls and emails from Mr Crowson, he says the council has given the couple a temporary place to stay while their housing request is reviewed.   


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He said: “Fenland Council have now accepted duty of care are putting the couple into temporary accommodation from Friday, January 22.

“It’s a hotel and they will stay there for as long as it takes to review their claims.”  

Simon Crowson of 50 Backpacks Vision

Simon Crowson said Fenland District Council had not stated a reason as to why they did not provide further help to a young homeless couple, before they were provided emergency accommodation. - Credit: Harry Rutter/Archant

 

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On January 21, the couple were advised by the council to get support from The Ferry Project under the Severe Emergency Weather Protocol (SWEP), which helps provide shelter for rough sleepers during severe or very cold weather.   

Before the council stepped in once more, Mr Crowson said the pair were unsuccessful as The Ferry Project only accepted single applications and that they were full.   

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Following a social media appeal on Thursday, Mr Crowson received £260 to cover hotel fees and housing costs for the couple, something he says he is incredibly grateful for. 

He said: “One lady paid direct to the hotel and others direct to us, so I will ask them if they want their refund or go towards housing costs for them.   

“I would like to thank Fenland Council for their quick response to my pleas and to the Rose and Crown Hotel who have been absolutely brilliant, not just with this couple, but the others we work with.”

  

It was only last month that Adam and Nicola were staying at her auntie’s house and had saved to find their own place before Nicola’s father, who also stayed at the Rose and Crown Hotel, took his own life in October last year.   

For Adam, it has been an ongoing battle to find and secure a place he can consider calling home.

Since February 2019, Adam, father to a three-year-old daughter, has struggled to find a permanent place to stay after a relationship breakdown. 

From staying in cars to sofa surfing, it nearly all came to an end for the former delivery driver. 

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“I was living in my car and since then, I go back to the car now and again or on the streets,” he said. 

“It got to the point back end of last year I tried taking my own life as it was getting too much having nowhere to call home. 

"If it wasn’t for my daughter, I think tomorrow will be a better day, but I’m getting back into the mindset of there not being a better day."

Nicola, who also left home because of family issues, has found it difficult to adapt to a new way of life living rough. 

“One of the cars we were staying in had no lock so anyone could have opened it,” she said. 

“As soon as we get a place to live that we can consider calling home, it will get better.” 

Adam has a new job at a care home in the pipeline, and has come a long way since a car crash last year left him almost unable to walk. 

However, the experience of living rough has left him contemplating life. 

“I feel like I have failed in life. I don’t feel like I belong here. I am breathing, but not existing,” he admitted. “I feel like I have let my daughter down.” 

Hopes of starting a better life may still be downbeat, but with a review into their housing situation underway, there is now a chance Adam and Nicola can finally move on. 

“There was a chance I would not walk, but I was determined to prove them wrong,” Adam added. 

“This has happened for so long, but it’s Spike that has given us a glimpse of hope.” 

Here's what I asked Fenland District Council:  

I was wondering if Fenland District Council's housing team, Housing Options, could clarify an issue for me please? 

A homeless couple were placed into emergency accommodation at the Rose and Crown Hotel in Wisbech this week (week commencing January 18), with the council paying for the first two nights. 

 However, I have been told that the council refused to pay for any more nights at the hotel. I'd like to know why they refused to do so. 

 I was also told that on Thursday, January 21, the couple were advised by the Housing Options team to seek shelter at The Ferry Project, which they were subsequently refused due to allegedly being full and not accommodating couples.  

Again, I'd like to know why shelter at The Ferry Project was refused despite the couple following advice from the council? 

 For context, I've been told the couple are still sleeping rough and have no idea where or when they can find an appropriate place to live. 

 I'd like to know if the council can provide any further help to the couple and whether advice to go to The Ferry Project was checked with the shelter before sending the couple there. 

Here’s their response:  

A Fenland District Council spokesman said: “It would not be appropriate to comment on the personal circumstances of any household in relation to their homelessness status under legislation.  

“However, we can confirm that emergency accommodation has been provided by the council for the couple.” 



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