Nottingham woman who became homeless during pandemic reunited with cat after finding a home

ITV News Central's Rajiv Popat went to meet Mel in her new home.

A woman from Nottingham who became homeless during the Covid-19 pandemic has found a new home.

Mel Bensley has worked all of her adult life - at the age of 17 she joined the Army and served in Northern Ireland.

For 14 years she ran a pub in Nottingham, but in 2020, during the Covid pandemic, the business and her mental health began to suffer.

Lockdown started a domino effect which would see her become lonely and isolated, take to drink and lose her tenancy.

When she was a teenager, Mel joined the Army. Credit: ITV News Central

Mel then became homeless and spent her life sofa-surfing and sleeping rough - even giving up her cat Little Miss.

With the help of the Framework Charity, she has got her own flat and has been reunited with her feline friend.

She says: “On the 24th of January 2022 I basically walked out of the pub with a rucksack and £4.50 in my pocket not knowing where I was going to go, not knowing where the cat was going to go.

"There was a wait obviously and they offered me this particular place that I'm quite happily settled with and was able to get my cat back.

"I've now put on quite a bit of weight, I'm feeling happier, I look happier and I've now got a new direction and a new purpose in life.

"Considering my recovery has been over such a short period of time, I do sometimes pinch myself and think ‘How have I managed to do it?’.

"The reason is my support worker Andy and the help from wider Framework services.”

Mel referred herself to Framework’s drug and alcohol service and began her recovery journey.

She urgently needed a home, so her support worker Andy referred her to Framework’s Housing Management Team who found her a flat in Nottingham.

Claire from Framework says ""The cost-of-living crisis and rising inflation have put pressure on our charity’s finances like never before." Credit: ITV News Central

Then Framework’s Employment Service found Mel volunteering roles, which gave Mel the confidence to secure paid work supporting people with their mental health.

Claire Eden, Framework’s head of fundraising and communications, said: “Following the challenges of Covid, we and our service users, like everyone else, have been hit with a time of great financial uncertainty.

“Many members of the public will be feeling the strain of rising household bills this Christmas, however, we ask people to remember those who have least and, where they can, to support our work helping people who have run out of options and have nowhere left to turn.

“We hope that the public will donate to Framework’s Winter Appeal and help us to give Mel and others like her somewhere to call home.”

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