A day in the life of family of four living in Travelodge room in Cornwall

Emotional, shattered and riddled with guilt.

In the midst of a serious housing crisis in Cornwall, Charlene was evicted from her St Blazey home earlier this year as her landlord wanted to move back in.

Like so many others, Charlene was unable to find a property to rent - privately or through the council, and has since been living in a single Travelodge room with her three children for almost six months.

She has been attempting to function with no kitchen, no clothes washing facilities and no real place to call home for 21 weeks.

Their time at the hotel has been extended every couple of weeks, leaving them in a constant state of not knowing if they might be moved out of, expected to pack up their belongings and move on with just a few hours to plan.

The family have been living in the Travelodge for 21 weeks. They use Charlene's mum's house as a day to day base

Charlene, 12-year-old Freya, 10-year-old Kieran and one-year-old Darcy, have had to rely on their family and friends in St Austell for meals and play time away from their Travelodge room.

The family have a kettle and an electric cool box, but no fridge or anywhere to cook.

People who are put into emergency accommodation like Charlene are only meant to be there for around six weeks. But there is such a demand for temporary accommodation paired with and a lack of properties for the number of people desperately needing a home, meaning the situation has become a stalemate for many.

Charlene says that at the beginning of August the family of four were offered a one bed flat in Bodmin with no parking which was no good as it was too small and her young daughter struggles with her breathing and needs to get straight to hospital, meaning the distance to where they could park would have been too much of a risk.

Figures from Cornwall Housing showed a rise in need for housing compared to last year.

The total number of households in temporary accommodation at the end of May 2021 was 578, and at end of May 2022 the figure stood at 665.

As of May 2022, there were 235 households in B&Bs like Travelodges and Premier Inns.

And the number of applicants on the council house waiting list in May 2022 compared to the same time last year jumped up to 23,173 - a 5,730 increase in just a year.

Charlene has recently been given some good news as the hope of a temporary house has come up.

Charlene says "every day is a waiting game".

She is waiting on some details but hopes the property near Bodmin will soon be a house for them to call home.

Here is what a typical day has looked like for the family for 146 days and counting:

Charlene's diary

6:15am: Alarm goes off and wake Freya up to shower and get ready for school. I feel tired before I even start the day.

6:30am: Wake Kieran up to shower and get ready for school

7:00am: Darcy usually wakes up around 7ish, goes into her chair and has her breakfast, usually waffles with a filling already pre-made. I feel so guilty that I can’t feed her some toast or cereal, and she has to stay strapped in her chair to save her being able to reach the hot kettle. Freya and Kieran have breakfast, usually crepes or waffles that are pre-made.

7:30am: Leave for the school run, drive to drop Freya at the bus stop

8:00am: Drive Kieran to school in Biscovey and wait in the car until he can go into school at 8:40am. Frustration hits as Darcy gets extremely impatient being sat in the car waiting for Kieran to go into school.

8:40am: Once Kieran is in school Darcy and I usually go to my mum's for much of the day. Usually help mum with some housework but also time for Darcy to play and for me to reflect on things, make phone calls about possible houses, call Homechoice to chase up our accommodation.

So many emotions through the day, are we ever going to get out of this situation? How long will this continue?

Charlene Pascoe and her children

11:00am: Darcy had a doctors appointment today in Par and has been told she has bronchiolitis after being poorly last week. I feel like there’s no rest for her at the moment, after spending three nights in hospital with a lung infection.

11:45am: Drive back to mum's for some lunch. Mum is at work today as is my sister so I do a bit of housework and make Darcy some lunch. It’s so hard because although I do a bit of washing or housework it’s tough because it’s not my house, it’s like I don’t know what needs doing. Some days I’ll go and meet a friend or go out with mum if she’s not working.

2:30pm: Leave mums to collect Kieran from school and then wait in the car for just under an hour, again with a very impatient Darcy.

4:00pm: Freya’s bus gets back so collect her and then drive back to mum's.

4:30pm: Cook tea, by this time my sister and mum are usually home as well as my sister's son. Things tend to get chaotic around tea time with so many of us, mum's house isn’t the biggest.

5:45pm: We leave mum's to head back to the Travelodge.

6:15pm: Run a bath for Darcy and usual bedtime routine. It usually takes us around two hours now to settle her to sleep. She goes to sleep on my bed as she won’t settle in her travel cot. Getting Darcy to sleep is very frustrating for all of us, she is always so over-excited about Freya and Kieran being there, doesn’t settle very easily at all.

What evenings look like for the family in the Travelodge

9:00pm: Darcy has settled and I have moved her into her travel cot, Freya and Kieran sit on their phones or watch TV at a very low volume until their lights go off at 9:30pm. Absolutely shattered and ready to start again tomorrow.

10pm: I turn everything off and lock the door of the Travelodge. Freya sleep-walks so I have to ensure the door is locked. I sleep very lightly as Darcy can climb out of her cot now too.

What Cornwall Council has said

Cornwall Council has said that no decisions have yet been made on the future of the control centre

A spokesperson for Cornwall Council said: "We sympathise with the position that some residents are finding themselves in as Cornwall continues to face extreme pressure on the availability of housing.

"We are committed to providing support for any resident faced with homelessness. However, there is a high demand for accommodation, especially if a household has very specific location requirements, including our own housing stock, properties that we rent, and other accommodation. 

"We continue to offer support to all those living in emergency accommodation to help them find long-term homes. 

"We are taking action to address Cornwall’s housing crisis from increasing the availability of emergency accommodation to increasing the delivery of new council housing for social rent and shared ownership.

"We are working hard to find suitable emergency accommodation for all those who need it and are investing £39m to increase the Council’s own stock of temporary accommodation to reduce the reliance on short-term hotel and B&B accommodation. 

" This includes the purchase of new modular homes, buying and refurbishing disused properties and providing dedicated ‘move on’ accommodation to support former rough sleepers on their journey towards settled, permanent, homes."