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Why did the council ‘house’ me in a tent?

Why did the council ‘house’ me in a tent?
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Theo had precise turned 17 when he grew to develop into homeless. He turned to the council for abet – however was given simplest a one-man tent, writes the BBC’s Emma Forde.

It was August 2016 when Theo’s mum, Rose, bought a phone name from Cornwall Council that made her feel physically ill. Her son had moved down south to use time with his dad, however issues hadn’t been going effectively. Theo had been kicked out of college. He’d been arrested for dealing medication and assaulting his dad. Now he’d been evicted from supported lodging – again thanks to gear.

However aloof, Rose was stunned by what the council needed to order.

“The manager of the crew phoned me up. She acknowledged, ‘Oh we’ve bought an replacement for Theo, we’re going to be putting him in a tent.’ I was at work at the time and there was replacement going on spherical me and I precise endure in thoughts the second. I felt in unfortunate health. And I acknowledged, ‘Successfully how is that even that you can be in a topic to mediate? How is it upright? Even you appreciate he’s so weak in a tent. He’s no longer effectively. I make no longer give you my permission for my child to be placed here.'”

The council pushed apart Rose’s objection and one of its workers went spherical to employ up Theo in a car.

“They were care for, ‘Load the auto up alongside with your bags, we’re going to a campsite,'” remembers Theo.

“I was care for, ‘What? Why are we going there?’ I was announcing, ‘How long am I going to be there? What’s it going to be care for?’

“And to boot they were care for, ‘Oh, precise for a number of days till the council finds you someplace to reside.’

“And to boot they were care for, ‘Now we possess bought you a tent!’

“I did no longer truly know what to order, I may perhaps well no longer order no. They gave me the tent and drove off.

“I was rather wretched at that time. I attempted putting it up on my have faith. Fortunately, this random guy started helping me effect apart up the tent because he seen I may perhaps well no longer.”

Months earlier, the council had been expressing deliver about Theo’s mental health and drug employ. Officers produced an evaluation which learned he was at menace of “overdose, dependancy and potentially loss of life”.

Being homeless wasn’t seemingly to beef up issues.

The day earlier than it gave him the tent, the council had provided Theo the option of but every other contrivance in supported lodging, however it was more than 30 miles away, so he’d turned it down, no longer trying to recede the advise he knew and where he was attending college.

Confronted with the prospect of residing in a one-man tent, though, he appealed again to be housed. This time he was suggested his behaviour made the likelihood “faraway”.

Theo was given food vouchers, credit rating for a cell phone and a torch. He had a snoozing earn however no chair to take a seat down on and no cooking tools.


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Attempting to develop the ideal of it, he bedded down for the night.

“It was a campsite within the heart of the woods. Very spooky. I endure in thoughts listening to rustling within the bushes and I thought, ‘A persons’ there. I’m no longer going out of the tent,'” he says. “I did no longer earn worthy sleep.”

Theo was firm to withhold going to varsity however it wasn’t easy. In the morning he would stir to the bathe block for a cold bathe, after which stroll for an hour to varsity. At night he would suspend a torch from a strap within the tent to make his college work.

He was simplest at that campsite for a immediate time earlier than he was moved to but every other – it wasn’t decided to him why. However at the easy campsite folks were kind to him, he says. One man old to develop him a bacon sandwich within the morning.

Theo’s mum, Rose, was firm. She lived thousands of miles away and was fostering some young teens. However when she bought the resolution she travelled to Cornwall, staying in a caravan end to her son and imploring the council to give him with upright lodging.

She was rebuffed. On one occasion the council suggested her that Theo foremost to accumulate “some accountability for his behaviour” – a reference to his drug abuse, perhaps, or to his refusal to accept lodging in a a ways-off town.

It wasn’t long earlier than that council officers had expressed deliver that Theo may perhaps well develop into addicted, overdose or die. Now teens’s products and services sent a referral to the council’s housing department, which aloof described him as “extremely weak” however went on to order that his “choices with the native authority are diminutive resulting from his behaviour”. These choices would simplest amplify, the referral acknowledged, “if he can proof he wants to develop some adjustments”.

Spherical this time, Theo was point out in an abandoned building, where he had advise fire to a mattress to withhold warmth. The fireplace brigade came out and he was returned to the campsite by police.

Theo remembers one night within the tent when there was a violent storm.

“It was trusty sinful. I thought my tent was going to switch over so I was repeatedly in my tent,” he says. “Hundreds of wind, torrential rain and all my stuff bought moist. Every thing was moist. Even I was moist when I awoke.”

Of us on the campsite helped Theo patch up his tent and he suggested council workers it was leaking. The council’s response? To elevate him but every other tent.

“Or no longer it’s rather thoughts blowing. I thought it may perhaps perhaps perhaps well be for a day or two after which I’d earn housed,” says Theo. “Nonetheless it ended up months. It was a rather tense experience for me because I’ve repeatedly lived in a apartment someplace. They must always aloof possess executed so contrivance more. They must always aloof possess effect apart me someplace with a roof over my head.”

In the direction of the ruin of August, the council did develop an attempt to safe Theo a contrivance in supported lodging, however with out success. It furthermore acknowledged it’s miles going to accumulate him into care, however that conception did no longer enchantment to him.

Rose had been compelled to achieve reduction dwelling with her husband and foster teens, however she continued to commute all the vogue down to Cornwall at standard intervals, alive to to abet her son.

“I was reduction and forward every weekend where I may perhaps. I felt ill the total time, tired, exhausted emotionally drained, precise barely in a topic to feature truly,” she says.

At one point, Theo started snoozing within the entrance of some specialist housing for sixteen- and 17-year-olds, hoping for a contrivance there.

After which, after he’d spent 5 weeks residing in a tent, social workers all straight away decided it was no longer trusty – the menace of him being sexually exploited, or coming to hurt from alcohol and drugs, was too enormous.

So he was moved from a tent… to a caravan.

“Then I bought lodging in this caravan. I felt care for parents were staring at me thru the windows. There was a lock on the door, however I made obvious care for the total windows were closed when I went to sleep,” Theo remembers.

He was strolling dwelling one night when a individual stopped and provided him a make a selection. He then took the teenager to a heart-broken car park where he sexually assaulted him. Afterwards he dropped him off at the caravan.

Theo spent a extra month within the caravan, skittish that the individual may perhaps well return.

“I repeatedly needed to be out at night time. I was skittish because he knew where I lived,” he says.

Theo reported the assault however social care records content no proof that the council even thought about whether or now to no longer accumulate any action to guard him within the sunshine of it.

By October, Theo’s situation was suddenly deteriorating – his drug employ was out of withhold watch over and he was threatening to abolish himself.

On 7 October he was somehow learned a contrivance in some supported lodging, toddle by a housing association that helps homeless formative years.

However he was simplest there for a number of weeks. By then it was firm he was very in unfortunate health. He was experiencing psychosis, listening to voices and foremost specialist abet. He was detained under the Mental Successfully being Act and went on to use Eleven months in a psychiatric sanatorium.

Indirectly, Rose’s complaints about the remedy her son bought were investigated by the Local Authorities and Social Care Ombudsman for England, Michael King.

He says the council did no longer properly take into story the risks Theo confronted.

“Right here’s one of essentially the most incorrect conditions I’ve seen in 14 years within the Ombudsman’s provider,” he suggested the BBC.

“Or no longer it’s deeply shapely both in terms of the influence or no longer it’s had on that young man however furthermore in terms of the depth of the failure. What we learned was that the council provided him lodging as soon as. When he refused it, they did no longer search files from whether or no longer that was a sound resolution. He requested for abet and requested for lodging. The council did no longer provide it to him. After they did provide him lodging, they accommodated him in a tent for five weeks, they accommodated him in a static caravan for four weeks and he ended up snoozing rough for a time frame. None of that is appropriate.”

He added: “What we seen within the council’s records was them taking a trusty judgement and blaming [Theo] for a number of of the alternatives he’d made… And or no longer it’s incumbent on the native authority to in actuality step in and abet in that deliver and accumulate the better demand.

“He was homeless and he had a history of mental health problems and he was very weak. He reported sexual assault, reported loneliness, he reported suicidal feelings. I imply, there was warning signal after warning signal, which the council must always aloof possess acted on.”

Jack Cordery, Carrier Director for Kids and Family Products and services for Cornwall Council acknowledges that the care provided to Theo fell immediate.

“We’re entirely accepting that the products and services that this young man bought and his mother in actuality were effectively under what we would ask. There may perhaps be no one, now under no circumstances me who thinks that a tent on the ideal campsite within the arena is precise lodging for a teenager in that deliver,” he suggested the BBC.

“What they hoped is that which would perhaps be for a truly immediate duration and that they’d be in a topic to earn him into precise lodging. If a teenager is refusing the provide of lodging, it closes down those choices truly, truly immediate,” he says.

“What I’d order to Theo is that I’ll make the entirety in my power and in my authority to make sure that this never happens again.”

The council has since apologised to Theo and his mother.

Now 19 years weak, Theo is taking issues one day at a time. He’s staring at for getting settled someplace eternal and resuming his college path. However he wants to make sure that that no-one else goes thru what he did.

“Formative years’s homelessness, or no longer it’s repeatedly gonna happen, however I want it to be sorted out immediate. I’m no longer precise here to make my cry story. I precise don’t want it to happen to any individual else to be precise.”

Theo and Rose are pseudonyms

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