Bleak Christmas

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A mum and five children who have been homeless for 12 months will spend Christmas Day in a bleak bed and breakfast room eating microwaved macaroni cheese for lunch.

And the new year will bring even less joy for the Reeves family who have to vacate the temporary accommodation on January 5.

Mum Linda, who has nine children, will not even be able to see her husband David and four older offspring on Christmas Day – because they are classed as guests with visits forbidden under hotel rules.

“It’s going to be the most miserable Christmas ever. We’ve no food, nothing 
except a microwave to cook with, and, most upsetting of all, no presents to give to the children,” she said.

Three-year-old Chika and her siblings Chima, eight, Obi, 10, Ekema, 12, and 16-year-old Arinze have given up asking for presents because they know there is no money to spare.

Linda, 48, receives £1,575 a month in benefits. But she says every penny goes on ready meals or takeaway food and taxi fares.

“The council has put us in the MK Hotel at Deanshanger, where the bus service is bad. We have to take taxis just to get the children to school and back. There is no way we can save the £2,000 or £3,000 deposit we need to rent a house 
privately.”

The Reeves originally bought their own former council house in Milton Keynes. After struggling with mortgage payments when David lost his job, they sold it to a debt management company that has since dissolved.

Until last year they were paying £1,200 a month to private landlords while Linda set up her own hairdressing business – which promptly hit 
financial difficulties.

When they could cope no more, the family of 11 split. Linda found private rentals for the older children, aged between 17 and 22, while she, David and the younger ones begged the council for help. They were offered a house in Newport Pagnell, but it was miles away from the children’s schools in Stony Stratford.

“While we were still thinking about the house, the council accused us of refusing it – and classed us as intentionally homeless. We spent months sofa surfing, living out of suitcases.

“The children’s school asked social services to do something but the social workers’ only solution was to put the children into temporary foster care, which we refused.”

There was a room for David at the YMCA, but no family accommodation. A few weeks ago Linda and the children were given the temporary bed and breakfast placement at the Deanshanger hotel.

“I have no idea where we’ll go after January 5,” said Linda.

A council spokesman said: We offered Mr and Mrs Reeves a four-bedroom property in Newport Pagnell last year, which was suitable for their needs, and was a realistic offer given the relative scarcity of this type of larger accommodation. Unfortunately the family turned the property down, despite being made fully aware that we would make no further offers of accommodation.

 “However, we also offered the family a deposit and a month’s rent, and said we would provide accommodation for the children while Mr and Mrs Reeves obtained private rental, if we they ask us to do so.” A mum and five children who have been homeless for 12 months will spend Christmas Day in a bleak bed and breakfast room eating microwaved macaroni cheese for lunch.

And the new year will bring even less joy for the Reeves family, for the council has already given them marching orders to leave the temporary accommodation on January 5.

Mum Linda, who has nine children in all, will not even be able to see her husband David and four older offspring on Christmas Day – because they are classed as guests and forbidden under the hotel rules.

“It’s going to be the most miserable Christmas ever. We’ve no food, nothing except a microwave to cook with, and, most upsetting of all, no presents to give to the children,” she said.

Three-year-old Chika and her siblings Chima, eight, Obi, 10, Ekema, 12 and 16-year-old Arinze have given up asking for presents because they know there is no money to spare.

Linda, 48, receives£1,575 a month in benefits.. But she says every penny goes ready meals or takeaway food and taxi fares.

“The council has put us in the MK Hotel at Deanshanger, where the bus service is bad. We have to take taxis just to get the children to school and back...There is no way we save the £2,000 or £3,000 deposit wee need to rent a house privately.”

The Reeves originally bought their own former council house in Milton Keynes. After struggling with mortgage payments when David lost his job, they sold it to a debt management company that has since dissolved.

Until last year they were paying £1,200 a month to private landlords while Linda set up her own hairdressing business – which promptly hit financial difficulties.

When they could cope no more, the family of 11 split. Linda found private rentals for the older children, aged between 17 and 22, while she, David and the younger ones begged the council for help. They were offered a house in Newport Pagnell, but it was miles away from the children’s schools in Stony Stratford.

“While we were still thinking about the house, the council accused us of refusing it – and classed us as intentionally homeless. We spent months sofa surfing, living out of suitcases.

“The childrens’ school asked social services to do something but the social workers only solution was to put the children into temporary foster care, which we refused.”

There was a room for David at the YMCA, but no family accommodation. A few weeks ago Linda and the children were given the temporary bed and breakfast placement at the Deanshanger hotel.

“I have no idea where we’ll go after January 5,” said Linda.

A council spokesman said: We offered Mr and Mrs Reeves a four- bedroom property in Newport Pagnell last year, which was suitable for their needs, and was a realistic offer given the relative scarcity of this type of larger accommodation. Unfortunately the family turned the property down, despite being made fully aware that we would make no further offers of accommodation.

 “However, we also offered the family a deposit and a month’s rent, and said we would provide accommodation for the children while Mr and Mrs Reeves obtained private rental, if we they ask us to do so.”