'I lost my existence' - Kent firefighter left homeless sleeping in tent after partner's death

  • Stuart Palmer tells ITV Meridian "homelessness can happen to anyone"

A former firefighter from Kent, who ended up homeless and sleeping in a tent in a field, has told ITV Meridian losing his flat left him feeling like he "lost his existence."

Stuart Palmer worked as an airport fireman at Lydd Airport, before he lost his partner.

He shared a flat with her for five years before her death. But when she died, as the flat was in her name, Stuart was suddenly left homeless.

As part of ITV Meridian's special series 'No Place To Call Home' Stuart said: "I slept in my car for about six months in Hythe. Everyone kept driving past, and not one person stopped to say hello, or anything.

"Then my car failed its MOT, so I lost my car. Then I lost my job.

"I slept in a tent for a year in a farmer's field close to my job. "I lost my existence in the world itself.

"I'd go to bed at 7:30pm at night when it got dark, and I was up at five o clock in the morning when it got light."

Stuart has told ITV Meridian sleeping in a tent left him feeling like he lost his existence Credit: ITV Meridian

Stuart says he feels that help was limited, partly because he is a man.

He added: "When I went to speak to someone for help I was told if I had a child and a wife, I would be looked after. Everyone kept saying to me 'get a flat' but you need a deposit for a flat. And you need a job for a flat.

"If you don't have any of them, you can't get anything. So you end up homeless."

Stuart started walking to the Rainbow Centre - a charity which offers support to people experiencing homelessness, in the evenings so he could have a hot meal.

He said: "The Rainbow Centre has helped me a lot. Just to be with people - I miss the company of people. And these people are my family now - every single one of them.

Stuart is now staying in a winter shelter, which he said has given him hope.

"If it wasn't for the winter shelter, it would have been disastrous for me. All these people here are keeping me going," he added.

For advice and support on homelessness you can contact the following organisations

Shelter 0808 800 4444

Crisis 01865 263900

Porchlight 0800 567 7699

Two Saints 01329 234600

Knight Support Street Link 0300 500 0914