Hidden Homelessness: Meet Laura and Noel

Laura, Noel and their two sons Barry (8) and Sam (5) became homeless when their landlord decided to sell the property they had been renting for the previous eight years. They frantically looked for alternative accommodation, but for the few places that were available to rent there were hundreds of people eager to take them. The family have been on the housing list for nine years but they have had no offers of a house in that time.

Once their eviction date came, faced with moving the family into emergency accommodation, Laura and her husband Noel decided instead to split the family up. Laura and the boys moved in with Laura’s parents and Noel moved in with a friend. Their dog Blondy was sent to live with a relative in another county. Over a year later, the family still do not have a home of their own and continue to live separately.

Before Laura moved into her parents’ home there were already three adults and one child living in the three-bedroom house. Laura said living in an overcrowded house, away from her husband has greatly affected her emotionally and mentally. She described the experience as very stressful for everyone living in the home and as a result relationships are very tense.

Laura has watched her children grieve for the life they once had and the family unit they used to be. Their dog Blondy brought great comfort to the boys, particularly when they were stressed or anxious – losing Blondy has been devastating for them. Noel has found it hard to maintain the closeness he once had with his children now that they don’t live together. The family try to spend as much time together as possible out of their homes, but there are only so many activities they can do.

Barnardos have been working with the family to help them cope with the challenges of being apart. The two boys attend a Barnardos after school group which gives them some space to play and share their feelings.

Laura has tried to explain to the boys it is not their fault they are homeless, that there are not enough homes at the moment for everyone in the city, but they often ask her why they are not “good enough” to have a home.