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Bradford
Thursday, May 30, 2024

Woman rendered homeless after violent assault

A woman has been left sleeping on the streets weeks after being violently attacked by her ex-partner after Ealing Council closed its shipping container estates.

On 12 April, Ealing Council removed the remainder of Meath and Marston Court tenants with the use of court bailiffs, making Natalie homeless while she was still recovering from wounds to the face after her ex had allegedly stabbed her with a broken bottle.

Speaking to Local Democracy Reporting Service 42-year-old says she doesn’t feel safe after she was forced to leave her home of 4 and a half years because her ex-partner still lives in the area. “I’m not safe to be on the streets with my ex still around,” she said.

Describing the attack which happened in January, Natalie said: “[The bottle] went in through my cheek and down into my gland. There was a lot of blood.” The incident has left her face scarred.

After being stabbed, Natalie said she requested to have an extension to the April 12 deadline so she could prepare herself properly. She explained that the site manager had agreed: “I was told I would have a two-week extension because of the incident.”

On the day of the eviction, she says the estate manager reiterated she would get the extra time before suddenly retracting it. She continued: “Because of my circumstances, he said I could have the two weeks but 20 minutes later he came back and told me I had to get out in half an hour.”

All of a sudden Natalie had bailiffs demanding she pack up her things and leave. She says this meant she was not prepared for life on the streets.

“It’s very cold, ’cause I only have what I have on me [a light coat]. I don’t have a sleeping bag cause they would give me extra time to get things together. It’s not pleasant.” In a matter of 20 minutes, Natalie had gone from believing she had weeks to organise alternative accommodation to homeless.

“It’s not doing well on my mind, to be honest. I’m mentally exhausted,” she told LDRS after sleeping rough for 10 days. “[The police] had installed a box, an alarm box, for my safety [in the shipping container flat], but now I’m not safe.”

Natalie has a special spot where she tucks herself away at night, spending every night praying she won’t be hurt and weathering the temperamental spring conditions. “It’s not exactly pleasant, especially for hygiene situations and all of that. Especially when it’s raining and cold, not having shelter is really hard.”

The eviction came so suddenly that she didn’t have time to organise to find a place for cats. “[The council] sent me a message saying if I don’t come and collect my cats they will be reported to the RSPCA. What can I do with two cats? I can’t keep them in the park with me.”

Natalie had ended up in Marston Court four years ago after fleeing domestic violence. She was homeless for nearly a year until charity St Mungo’s helped her find a spot.

Of her time in the shipping containers, Natalie told LDRS: “It’s not worse than being homeless but it’s still pretty rough.” When LDRS spoke to Natalie she was still trying to find a refuge to stay in.

She said: “They have tried to get me into a refuge but it takes time,” adding: “I have to be outside of Ealing because of my ex.”

The reason the council have given for ending its care over her is rent arrears. Natalie says she paid £150 a week in rent from her universal credit and was shocked when she was informed that she was in arrears.

“I don’t know why they waited 4 and half years to tell me about my rental arrears it was only when they were dismantling it.”

Natalie adds that she thinks the arrears were used as an excuse to kick her out without having to find alternative accommodation for her. Many ex-residents of Marston and Meath say that the amount of rent being charged for accommodation has been labelled an ’embarrassment’ and ‘not fit for purpose’ by the council was nonsensical.

An Ealing Council spokesperson said: “We were obliged by law to serve all the households at Meath and Marston courts with eviction notices as part of the decommissioning process. For Natalie this arrangement did not apply as prior to the decommissioning agreement in November 2023, she had been served with a notice to quit on the basis of substantial rent arrears, and this is the reason she has been evicted.

“The eviction process took place at Brentford County Court and has lasted for a period of at least 8 months with the final eviction taking place on 12 April 2024. At every stage, Natalie was notified by the courts of the pending dates, together with the progress of the eviction. On the day of eviction, the bailiffs advised her that the clerk of the court had informed them they had personally visited a week prior to duly inform her of the eviction date.

“She advised that she was going to her sisters and would return to collect her belongings. She was advised that her belongings could be left in the flat for no longer than 28 days. She also left 2 cats which have been fed and looked after by Ealing Council officers. Despite advising that she would return and collect her belongings and cats she has not done so. Because of this the RSPCA were contacted in relation to her cats.

“We would advise Natalie to approach our Housing Solutions Team who will be able to advise her regarding her housing options, and take a homelessness application to assess what (if any) statutory housing duty she may be due.”

LDRS has reached out to Natalie for an update. She told LDRS that she was still sleeping rough. She confirmed that she does not in fact have a sister but a close friend from church that she sometimes refers to as ‘sister’.

She has also managed to collect one of her cats. LDRS has contacted the Met to confirm the details of the alleged incident involving Natalie and her ex-partner.

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