'We didn’t have time to grieve': Cornwall couple whose newborn died evicted while in hospital

The couple were in hospital when they were served with their first eviction notice Credit: BPM Media/Rebekah Gidman

A couple from St Austell have hit out at the housing crisis after they were served an eviction notice while in hospital dealing with the loss of their newborn baby.

Rebekah Gidman and her partner were left 'devastated' after they were issued a Section 21 notice as their daughter Ehvadnai fought for her life.

The couple were then issued another notice just months after securing a new place to live.

Ms Gidman gave birth to her daughter in September 2021 in an emergency c-section. Ehvadnai had a severe tongue-tie, issues with feeding, and steadily developed further complications.

They were moved from Royal Cornwall Hospital to Derriford when it became clear Ehvadnai needed specialist care.

An eight week stay in Plymouth then gave way to a transfer to Bristol Children’s Hospital as her condition deteriorated further.

Rebekah said: "She had liver failure and a million other problems. Her body was attacking itself, she was having multiple blood transfusions every day, she had a bleed on the brain, a problem with her neck and could only be fed by IV.

Ehvadnai died in hospital after months of illness Credit: BPM Media/Rebekah Gidman

"She was taken off a ventilator and she passed away at Bristol after we were transferred. All during this time, we also had to look for a new place to live as our landlord had given us an eviction notice.

“We’d never missed a rent payment, even when we were both up at Bristol taking time off work.”

The couple were the Section 21 notice - which gives residents two months to leave a property and requires no justification - shortly before Ehvadnai was born while Ms Gidman herself was on oxygen.

The couple then had to look for a place to live in Cornwall amid a volatile rental market while coping with her daughter’s situation.

She said: “We were up in Bristol, couldn't even view places. I must have applied for hundreds, and they were disappearing the day they appeared.

"Even though my daughter was on life support we were searching for houses. I can't explain what that’s like. We work here in St Austell, our whole life's here. We don’t drive so we need to get to work and stay here."

When Ehvadnai died in November, Ms Gidman and her partner found themselves grieving the loss of their daughter, organising a funeral and still trying to find somewhere to live.

She said: "We were saving for a mortgage before all of this. Everything went to keep where we were and having the funeral, still desperately trying to find somewhere to live.”

Rebekah, her partner and their other children finally found a three-bed flat in St Austell charging £1,000 a month and moved there in February 2022.

But just four months later, the family were served another eviction notice last Friday (June 10).

She said: "We had just started trying to pick up our lives again. They said they’re selling, didn’t say why they’re selling.

"Again, we haven’t missed rent, nothing. We owe nothing to anyone but we have to be out by August.

"Imagine trying to sort a funeral with nothing coming in, finding a place, not getting wages as you’re off work, losing everything you’ve saved, still coming up with a deposit and rent in advance - and then being evicted again. We didn’t even have time to grieve."

Ms Gidman said the future for her family is still uncertain, and that she’s now facing a choice of uprooting her children’s school lives or waiting for the eviction to pass and being put into emergency accommodation.