'Forgotten about' mum facing Christmas in Newquay bedsit with no tree

Still of Harriet Duffy and baby Noah
Harriet Duffy

A mum being moved between temporary accommodation options feels she has "been forgotten about" as she gets ready for Christmas with nowhere to put up a tree.

Harriet Duffy was facing homelessness when she sought help from a Cornwall food bank.

And the manager of Newquay Drop In and Share Centre (NDSC) says she is anticipating "a catastrophe" as the service is faced with unprecedented demand.

Mum Harriet was first offered temporary accommodation in Plymouth but had no personal transport or funds to get there.

Harriet says she has since been moved between different temporary accommodation options, none of which suited life with a six-month-old baby.

She said: "There is no oven or cooking facilities, there's a microwave and a single kitchen unit that has a sink in it. That's about it.

"It is extremely frustrating. I feel like now we've been given that we've just been forgotten about."

Harriet says she is desperate to find longer term social housing, but with 20,000 people on Cornwall Council's Home Choice register she faces stiff competition for each property. She and her baby will be spending Christmas in a Newquay bedsit. 

Harriet Duffy: "It's coming up to his first Christmas now and I can't even put a tree up anywhere, so it's not great."

Newquay DISC is run by volunteers and offers help with housing and benefit problems, as well as being a foodbank.

Manager of Newquay DISC Monique Collins

Manager Monique Collins says the level of hardship she is witnessing is worrying.

She said: "I've run Newquay DISC for five years and I've never ever seen the numbers we're seeing at this moment in time and the numbers are rising on a daily basis. I foresee a very long hard winter."

The foodbank has served up 380,000 meals since the start of the pandemic and has had to triple the amount of food it offers to cope with demand.

Monique says she is overwhelmed with calls from people being evicted from rented properties.

She continued: "I predict a catastrophe happening. It's getting worse daily. The amount of phone calls I'm getting are upping on a daily basis from people with children that are being made homeless, elderly people, people with cancer, people of all sorts of walks of life is what we see."

What is Cornwall Council doing?

Cornwall Council says whilst there are 20,000 people on its housing list, some of those are already housed but wish to move.

The council says its Housing Crisis Plan proposals will cover four main areas:

  • To work towards ending homelessness and rough sleeping 

  • To improve availability and access to homes for local residents 

  • A step change in the supply of affordable homes in Cornwall 

  • To deliver the new homes Cornwall needs through the Local Plan 

The council has recently purchased 130 open market homes at West Carclaze Garden Village in St Austell to convert them into affordable homes for local people in need.

It says work is also under way on a Tenancy Sustainment and Rescue Scheme, which will directly intervene to help tenants to remain in their privately rented homes. 

Councillor Olly Monk, Cornwall Council Credit: ITV News

Cornwall councillor Olly Monk, portfolio holder for Housing and Planning: ''It's a very challenging situation that we find ourselves in, especially with the families who find themselves facing eviction from the private rented sector.

"What I would say is Cornwall Council is committed to delivering and being able to build accommodation for people in the private sector to be able to move into, but at the same time I would urge landlords if they are in difficulty to contact the council and see if we can help."

The council says it will explore with partners, developers and Homes England, a proposal that in future ensures that on rural exception sites 100 per cent of homes are for affordable home ownership and rent.