Terrified Northampton mum and baby forced to sofa surf after gun-wielding intruders raided their home

A former MP says the authorities failed to work together to find safe accommodation for a Northampton woman after she was too terrified to return home.

Thursday, 31st January 2019, 12:03 pm
Updated Thursday, 7th February 2019, 8:02 pm
The woman approached former MP Sally Keeble for advice

Sally Keeble, the former Northampton North MP, was contacted by the mum after gunmen chased her and her baby out of her council flat in Northampton.

The woman approached Northampton Borough Council as a council tenant and explained the crisis she was in, but staff were unable to offer her appropriate accommodation away from the alleged raiders.

Mrs Keeble said: "The home they offered was not suitable and wasn't safe but they failed to find her an alternative.

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"There was no effort to solve the problem

"As a result, she's been sofa surfing around the town with her baby for two months now, and that's appalling."

Mrs Keeble, a former housing minister, was approached by the woman for advice on navigating the system.

The former MP said the overall issue was that the borough council, county council and Northamptonshire Police had not liaised properly with each other.

If they had, she said, it would have been simple for the woman to prove her circumstances using both a crime report and a social services report about the welfare of her baby.

Mrs Keeble said this was the worst example she had come across of a wider problem, namely the authorities failing to communicate when it comes to helping the 'hidden homeless'.

Mrs Keeble said: "Rough sleeping on the streets of Northampton is the tip of the iceberg. Underneath it there are a lot of families with children who don’t have a place to call home.

She added: "It's just getting impossible to get any progress on these issues.

"The impact of that on the most vulnerable is quite serious.

"And when [council] resources as tight as they are, that makes things even more difficult."

Mrs Keeble said that the latest government figures showed nine Northampton families with children were placed in bed and breakfast hostels. Another 194 Northampton families with children were in “nightly paid, privately managed accommodation – self-contained.”

Councillor Stephen Hibbert, cabinet member for housing, said as of today (Thursday) the council had no children living in B&Bs.

He said: “Despite a significant increase in the number of families presenting as homeless in Northampton, we currently do not have any families with children living in bed and breakfast accommodation.

“All of the families are living in self-contained accommodation in the borough and, although they may have to wait some time before they are offered a more permanent home, their accommodation is entirely appropriate and suitable in the short term.”