Mum moved by council 10 times in a YEAR tells of ‘traumatic’ experience

A distressed mum has revealed how she was moved by her local council TEN times within the space of a year.

Gem Gardner claims she even stayed in McDonald’s for the night as she had nowhere left to go.

The 41-year-old, who has previously suffered from mental health problems, branded the experience of temporary accommodation as "traumatic".

She claimed Nottingham council even tried to get her to move to Derby – miles from her daughter’s school.

Despite the numerous set-backs, her daughter, Success, had a 100% attendance record last year.

Ms Gardner said: "My relationship broke down in London so I had to come back to Nottingham as I had nothing left down there. I could not cope.

"I ended up with housing aid as I was in rent arrears and I became isolated and depressed.

"Research had to be done to see if I had made myself intentionally homeless and I went through three different hotels in the six months it took for them to make a decision – which came back that I had despite my relationship breakdowns.

"I was all alone with my daughter then, and housing aid sent me to Loxley House and said they could help me."

At one stage, Gem and her daughter were forced to stay in a hotel that "didn’t have electricity for three days".

She said: "When I complained, they threatened to kick me out. Some landlords can be horrible to deal with and take advantage of your situation.

"The travel costs to get my daughter to school were so expensive as we kept getting put so far away."Ms Gardner eventually got a solicitor and said it is unfortunate there is not enough concern put into "where vulnerable women are getting placed".

The council has now helped her get a privately rented house in Hyson Green, Nottingham

She also has a job after graduating in applied social science and youth work at university, looking after a child on a one-to-one basis at a school.

She added: "I’m an educated woman. My situation is not who I am.

"It has opened my eyes to the reality of the system. It seems designed to make people fail. It’s not surprising how people fall into prostitution and drugs.

"But when I was alone in London I thought, ‘I have to do this for my daughter’. I am hoping to get a house with my own name on it.

"My daughter wants to be a clothes designer and she’s already wanting to help other people as well. She has written a few cards for homeless people this year.

"We’re in a better position now, but there is always the worry about going back there."

Councillor Linda Woodings, portfolio holder for housing and planning at Nottingham City Council, said: "This has been a complex case and we’re glad that we’ve ultimately been able to support Ms Gardner back into permanent accommodation.

"She was living in a privately-rented property with her child and came to us after her landlord evicted her for non-payment of rent.

"It took a lot of work to understand what had happened in Ms Gardner’s case and why she had been unable to keep up with the rent. This involved conversations with a number of partner agencies and she was temporarily housed while this took place.

"The use of bed-and-breakfasts and hotels is clearly not ideal, and the council remains on track to end their use for families by the end of the year.

"Properties are only used when they have been assessed by our safer housing team as meeting required standards. Where we’ve had concerns, the council has taken appropriate steps to help the owner improve things. Enforcement action is taken where necessary.

"Unfortunately, there are often restrictions in providing temporary accommodation at city-based hotels over the weekend.

"We have occasionally been required to move people ahead of the weekend, but always try to get them back into the same hotel so that children’s schooling isn’t disrupted."

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