Mum unable to find a home in Cornwall now living in a tent with her six-year-old son

  • Watch Charlotte Gay's report

A mother from Bude who is living in a tent with her son between her emergency accommodation says the housing system in Cornwall is broken.

Jodie Burt was served six months notice on her rented home in January, but by the end of June she was unable to find an affordable private alternative and is relying on Cornwall Council's homeless team to find places to stay overnight.

She says she is getting very worried about her son's physical and mental health as he is struggling to sleep and becoming exhausted.

"It's always going around in his head, saying to me where are we going to live? Where are we staying tonight? What do I need to take? And I can't give him any answers. All I can say is I've got to wait for a phone call."

Jodie's mum Caroline cannot offer her spare room as it is needed by her mother-in-law who has dementia. Credit: ITV NEWS

Since being made homeless at the beginning of the month, Jodie and six-year-old Harvey have been offered single night's stays in Plymouth, Liskeard, Saltash, Hayle and St Austell.

But they do not have access to a car and so these towns, which are more than an hour's drive away, have been largely unsuitable for keeping her son in school. On the days she is unable to stay in the Bude's Premier Inn, Jodie has resorted to sleeping in a tent with her son in her mother's garden.

Unfortunately her mother Caroline only has one spare room for the pair of them which if they stayed in would class Jodie and her son as sheltered. That room is also specifically needed by her mother-in-law who is about to move in because she needs support with her dementia.

It comes as Cornwall Council will be considering a motion to declare a housing emergency in the county tomorrow.

Jodie is far from alone with Cornwall Council supplying emergency housing to more than a thousand people, from singles to families, right across the county. It's currently costing the council more than £10million a year to pay for hotels and other overnight accommodation.

One of the ways they're addressing the problem right now is to provide 100 park homes on ‘pop-up’ sites, which would be able to house four people each and so provide a home for families.

Councillor Ollie Monk, who is responsible for Cornwall housing, says this is a good solution until more homes can be built.

"These will provide permanent or semi-permanent accommodation that people can live in free of fear of eviction from landlords or the hotel chains. They can stay there until we build council housing which they can move into in a more permanent basis."

Cllr Ollie Monk next to some of the temporary bunk cabins in Truro city centre Credit: Cornwall Council

Elsewhere in Bude, the estate agents in the town saying they are receiving more than 100 calls for every property which comes up for rent in Bude - five times higher than demand before the pandemic.

John Tape is the Bude manager for Webbers Property Services, he has worked in the town for 24 years and says this is the biggest demand he's ever witnessed for homes.

"What you'll find is, local wages aren't brilliant and it might hurt people in our town more than other places because there isn't the choice of employment like other towns and cities."

Councillor Peter La Broy says he has being contacted every week by a family in dire need for housing.

"There is a danger that we're just going to turn into dormitory towns. I hate to use the word 'millionaire's playground' but I think that's not far over the horizon."

Bude and Stratton's planning committee have already declared a housing emergency, they're hoping other parishes will follow suit to highlight how serious the problem has become.