HAILSHAM: Salvation Army helps grateful family furnish flat

Stephen Barnett, Tracy McKinley and daughter Kira
Stephen Barnett, Tracy McKinley and daughter Kira

A HAILSHAM family with a four-year-old child spent the night on the floor of an unfurnished flat after being moved out of their home by Wealden District Council.

Stephen Barnett, 43, his partner Tracy McKinley, 42, and their four-year-old daughter Kira were left with no gas, cooking facilities or furniture after being given less than 24-hours’ notice from Wealden District Council before they were moved from emergency accomodation in Jevington Gardens in Eastbourne into short-term rented accommodation in the Town Farm Estate.

The family eventually managed to delay their move by four days after speaking to a social worker, but a lack of money meant they spent the first night in their new home sleeping on the floor.

After contacting the Salvation Army, the charity organisation went out of its way to help furnish the couple’s temporary home.

“I don’t know what we would have done without them,” said Ms Mckinley.

“We really would have been in a hopeless situation, I’d call them a real lifeline.

“There was nothing here, when we arrived except for the television. They delivered beds and mattresses, wardrobes, chest of drawers, table chairs, a settee, pots and pans - and they did it for free. It is not just the things they have done, it is the way they are as well, they are really kind understanding people,” she added.

However, the couple said they were angry at the way their family had been treated by Wealden District Council.

“It is disgraceful how they bullied us into this situation,” said Mr Barnett.

“We were given no time or opportunity to get things sorted.

“We don’t even know this area, we don’t know the people around us.

“When we looked at the place there was damp everywhere and mould everywhere. There are no white goods - the gas wasn’t even on.

“We slept on the floor with no heating. Kira had my fishing bed and my sleeping bag to keep her as warm as possible,” he added.

But Wealden District Council’s housing options and performance manager, Gemma Forshaw, said the family were given six days notice before the move.

“The family knew we were trying to find them a place of their own in Wealden.

“Council properties are let unfurnished and we provided them with information about how they can access low-cost furniture and white goods should they need to,” she said.

“The six days notification we gave when a suitable flat had been found allowed time for them to make arrangements for furniture and other goods, while freeing up emergency accommodation to help another household,” she added.