Mum-of-three forced to steal nappies after being kicked out of Hackney homeless hostel

Sarah Abraham-Henry with her 11-month-old daughter. Picture: Polly Hancock

Sarah Abraham-Henry with her 11-month-old daughter. Picture: Polly Hancock - Credit: Archant

A single mother says she’s having to steal to provide for her three children after being kicked out of a homeless hostel and refusing to move more than 200 miles to Durham or Bradford.

Sarah Abraham-Henry with her 11-month-old daughter. Picture: Polly Hancock

Sarah Abraham-Henry with her 11-month-old daughter. Picture: Polly Hancock - Credit: Archant

Sarah Abraham-Henry, 31, had been in emergency accommodation provided by Hackney Council in Malpas Road for a year but the locks were changed on Friday after her application to be put on the housing waiting list was rejected.

Now she and her children, aged 13, three and 11 months, are relying on friends to put them up.

But Sarah told the Gazette she’s going to be left on the street soon and said this weekend she was forced to shoplift nappies because she had no money and all of her family’s clothes, food and supplies were locked in the hostel.

“I don’t have money until Tuesday,” she said. “Our food and everything was in there – baby milk, nappies. We’ve been in the same clothes since Friday.

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“I haven’t eaten. I haven’t slept. It was horrible having to steal but I had no choice. And my kids were watching me.”

Sarah has now been offered shopping vouchers after speaking to her social worker but has made it clear she needs access to her old room to get her stuff.

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Hackney Council initially told the family they would need to leave the hostel – on the Aspland Estate – by August 2 but they were given an extension while “further enquiries” were made. During this time, Sarah says the council told her there were homes available in Durham or Bradford.

“I would have no support network,” she said. “I’m in and out of hospital with a hyperactive thyroid and now stress and if I don’t have my mum and my kids’ dad I’ve got no one.

“My daughter is in Year 9 at school – I can’t just move.”

Sarah cannot get on Hackney’s 13,000-strong housing list and be placed in temporary accommodation because she was told she made herself intentionally homeless by being evicted from her private-rented flat on the Athletes Village back in 2014.

“That was because my housing benefit couldn’t get sorted out,” she explained. “By the time I was evicted the arrears had been sorted but it was too late.

“I’ve been in hostels until now. I’ve gone through Shelter who have put me in hotels. I was literally sleeping in my car two weeks before I had my third child because everyone I know was getting fed up with me.

“I was parking in a car park near my mum’s house, but I didn’t tell her.”

A Hackney council spokesperson said: “We would of course always prefer to provide all families with a stable, secure and affordable council home, and Ms Abraham-Henry’s situation is another all too real example of the extent of Hackney’s housing crisis that the government has continued to fail to address. With more the 13,000 families on our waiting list we often need to prioritise those in the greatest need.

“We have previously provided Ms Abraham-Henry with temporary accommodation, and unfortunately for various reasons she has been found to be ineligible for permanent housing. In this type of situation we will always work closely with families to find a home in a place that is affordable for them, and will continue to offer Ms Abraham-Henry any support we can.”

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