Margate couple take in mum and 4-year-old son ‘failed’ by council as they faced sleeping rough

Jack and Charlotte have taken the mum and little boy into their home until they can move into new accommodation

A Westgate mum and her four-year-old son who spent two weeks sofa-surfing and then were faced with sleeping on the streets have been taken in by a Margate couple who say the housing system “is broken.”

Businesswoman Charlotte Silver and husband Jack Packman had desperately tried to help the mum and her child who had nowhere to go. They had been living in a Westgate property but were evicted after the building was sold. They then sofa surfed in Margate but it was a temporary solution.

A call was made to Thanet council’s housing team to try and find somewhere for the mum and boy to sleep on January 31 but Charlotte says they were told to call back after 5pm for the out of hours service and then had to repeatedly call until 9pm because they were told no senior staff were on hand to authorise accommodation.

The couple then found a place to stay with friends for the little boy but there was not enough room for the mum, who ended up staying the night in their home.

Charlotte and Jack have lodged a formal complaint with Thanet council over the handling of the incident.


Charlotte, who owns businesses Silvers in Margate and Ronnies in Ramsgate, said: “We explained that they had nowhere to go and would have to spend the night on the street. (The officer) was unsympathetic to this and in a nutshell told us it was our problem. At 5pm, we called the out of hours service who treated us amazingly at first and seemed to be really helpful and informative.

“They said that we would hear from a team member ASAP. After 2 hours we phoned back to be told there was no update and they couldn’t get hold of a senior member of staff from TDC.

“We said it was simply unacceptable that no member of staff from TDC was available. We rang again at 8pm and were told the same and finally called at 9pm with the same response.

“This is a failure from the local authority to carry out their duty to two vulnerable people, one being 4 years old.

“Around 8pm we made the decision to find the child alternative accommodation with a friend of ours but sadly they had no room for mum. This has meant the family had to split up and a child was in a strange home without his mum. Just after 9pm we made the decision that mum could stay with us as she would be out on the street otherwise.”

The complaint to the council raises concerns over there being no senior member of staff available out of hours and that a 4 year old child had to be separated from his mum to stay with strangers. They have also complained about a lack of empathy and question why they were told to book the mum into a hotel.

Charlotte said: “The local authority failed in every step of the process under their statutory obligation.”

Temporary accommodation

The couple say they contacted numerous letting agents but only one was able to help. Prospects UK, run by Dayne Gooding who also now owns The Oak Hotel in Ramsgate, secured a two-bed property for the mum and her son but it will not be available until March.

Thanet council has offered temporary accommodation but this would be in either Medway or Maidstone. The mum works in Thanet and her son is at an isle school.

Jack, who will be standing for a place on Thanet council in this May’s local election, said: “Thanet council insisted that she had to move to Medway or Maidstone while in temporary accommodation. They also instructed her to find her own accommodation. They had suggested a number of letting agents. Prospects UK were the only letting agents that said they could help. We managed to get an immediate appointment with Dayne Gooding and he showed care, empathy and was decisive about supporting the  woman.

“He moved extremely quickly and contacted TDC to sort out a two bedroom property which managed to secure  support from TDC with the part funding of the rent and upfront costs.

“The property doesn’t come available until March 1 and TDC still insisted that she moved to Medway with her 4 year old until it becomes available. This is just impractical as the child’s school and her work is in Thanet. If they moved she would have had to give up work meaning she couldn’t afford the property we secured for her.

“With no alternative, we have had to take both Mum and child in for a month otherwise they will be homeless or in Medway. They will stay with us until March 1 when they will move into permanent accommodation provided by Prospects UK.

“The system is completely broken which makes it hard for anyone who is homeless to break the cycle. TDC has responded to the official complaint raised on Tuesday evening and will investigate what happened.”

Jack says that he has been flooded with calls from people in a similar situation since sharing the mum’s predicament on social media.

Isle homelessness

Thanet council says the case was sent to the Housing Options team to make sure that everything that could be done for the household was being done. The authority is unable to comment on individual cases.

The most recent rough sleeper count in Thanet recorded 11 people on the streets and 45 people receiving assistance from the RISE homelessness team. Some 199 households are in temporary accommodation. In June Thanet council said some 96 households were in temporary accommodation outside of Thanet.

In November Thanet District Council had more than 600 active ‘homelessness cases’, including those homeless, at risk of homelessness and being supported by rough sleeping services, or awaiting a council decision on whether to house them.

Thanet council receives around 1,000 homelessness applications each year. The council is landlord of 3034 properties but demand outstrips supply.

The authority recently opened Foy House in Margate to provide temporary accommodation with eight one and two bedroom flats. It is also aiming to expand its temporary accommodation by taking on a second project with £2.22m earmarked  to buy another building or land or new build property.

The local authority says landlords serving section 21 eviction notices are one of a number of reasons for the increase in demand.

Get advice

Shelter England

Citizens Advice

Thanet council Housing Team 01843 577277

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  1. Well done for your kind and compassionate actions. Sadly, with the cost of living continuing to rise, this is a problem that will become normal as folk lose their homes.Maybe it’s time to put People before Profits?

      • Im not sure how old you are, but had you followed the labour and tory party during the 1970’s Im sure your thoughts would be different. Under the different labour party leaderships the trade unions became combative and militant. It became a joke of who could more the chair and who could stand on it. If the person was or wasnt in the union and at the slight moment, all out would be heard. Power strikes, the miners on strike, lorry drivers on strike the dockers on strike teachers on strike bin men on strike.. Britain was a mess. The tory party brought common sense back to the country. Then labour started to encourage anyone to join their party, going to extreme lengths to get support. Labour still do not do as they were meant to do, they do not look after the working “man” but jump onto any wagon that is passing.

    • Saw a report in my newspaper recently that said half the adult population are Jam’s, Just About Managing! That is they struggle from one month to the next, and are just about managing! Welcome to the Tory wonderland folks, and they want to cut public services yet again, to pay for tax cuts so the wealthy can have more money, Duuurh!

    • Get real Peter, its Gale and his cronies that have caused homelessness, by selling off council property, and not replacing it!

  2. Well done for taking them in. But the whole situation should have been avoided in the first place. Did she contact the council as soon as she was told the building was being sold? If not then she has missed out on giving the council a fighting chance of sorting somewhere for her a long time ago.
    Homeless cases are on the rise across the country, do people seriously think the council has the resources to find places at short notice?
    Rent controls, a serious look at how social housing is allocated and legislation on the number of air bnbs is needed. But doubt our spineless Tory MPs will do anything.

    • Having watched a few programs on this it seems the council cant/wont do anything until you are actually homeless. No point informing the council you will be homelessness in 4 weeks time.

      The councils only ‘work’s when you are homeless ! Madness

    • It doesn’t matter if you contact them straight away it’s a 4 month wait for emergency accommodation and then you can be in emergency accommodation now for up to 5 years. Shoved away from family and moved away from your job and all you’ve ever known.

      • The Homeless Persons Act was passed to prevent this sort of disaster for families – and it worked.
        It was repealed by the Tory/Lib Dim Government and has left this awful situation for any family rendered homeless through no fault of their own. Grateful thanks to Charlotte and Jack for your help but please everyone needs to remember this sort of thing when you next vote!

  3. Should have said they are from eastern Europe ,had been put him in a hotel,and we’ll done to Charlotte and jack

  4. Good to see people use a lovely story to peddle xenophobic rhetoric.

    I’m sure these two lovely people feel the absolute opposite and would anyone struggling to get help.

    Good on them.

    Excellent stuff. Shame it’s needed but brilliant work.

    • It’s not xenophobic,if locals (born in thanet) were prioritised first,you would not have ,local people having to move across Kent to be put in second rate housing,others where ever they come from UK or not ,should come second

  5. The homeless section of the council do not answer their phones.

    2 different people have reported this to the council; for all the good it did.

  6. Well done Jack and Charlotte the world needs more people like you in it wish I knew of you both when I first came face to face with these battles… the homeless team have never answered my calls after just one or two it’s been stressful but hopefully this is another push closer to them pulling a finger out…. Shouldn’t have come to this, they do have a lot of people and families to help but they have also been known to help the less vulnerable people quicker than the most vulnerable://

  7. Yep. Tories should loose their places on the council in May as a clear sign to the government. Also the Thanet Labour group needs to be removed. Look out for the Independents who were ejected by the Labour Party at the election. Not to be confused with UKIP fascist now Thanet Independents. Many changes needed at TDC councillors still incapable of running anything as this example shows!

  8. Well done Jack – and Charlotte- remember him as a referee- was a decent bloke then too! Hope he wins a seat on the council

  9. I suspect that the council will take the view that they have been taken in by this couple, so technically they are no longer homeless, so not the councils problem. Let’s hope this isn’t the case, but these days who can tell what crazy loophole they come up with.

  10. I’m in the same situation since August! Last year me and my son was moved to maidstone then lost the temp accommodation he missed school and my mental health broke down. I’m now in a b&b with no son as he now lives with his dad because of this and I’m no closer to knowing when I’m being housed. Rough slept for weeks and weeks I’m vulnerable with eupd and psychosis and they just don’t care

  11. I had a very similar issue. I was 4 months pregnant and they wouldn’t offer me and my partner accommodation until I gave proof of pregnancy. Then when they finally helped, they tired to ship me off to ashford an hour drive away from family. Not only that the accommodation they provided had drug residue, mold so bad the floorboards were coming up, the glass front door to the flats had been smashed. I had even been told of people pushing people down the stairs and beating each other up for no reason. The council let down so many people. There was also my uncle who has COPD who they told would be fine on the streets in the middle of winter

  12. Without sounding harsh, I think it’s a case of people taking responsibility for themselves and their children really. The eviction would have been advised well in advance before it happened. And actually why can’t she and the child commute to Thanet…as a temporary solution. You do, what you have to do!

    • Are you completely mad or what if that poor lady and her son had to commute to thanet the poor people would have to leave at six thirty in the morning just so her son could be in school on time,and thats if the roads are clear.

    • That does sound harsh and I don’t think you’ve thought it through. It only takes a change in circumstances to send any of us down this path no fault on the individual. None of us are immune. One of the purposes of tax is to ensure social security a responsibility that is not being upheld by the government. It is harsh enough that a woman with a 4 year old child is in this situation without being blamed for it. Thank goodness for human kindness

  13. The more DFLs that start to stand for council will raise the standard of councillors. They used to more civilised and democratic administration.

    Some of the councillors we have now are barely literate with a small town mentality; ready to tow the line at the first challenge by the sharks who lurk among both councillors and council officers.

    The last CEO being proof of that disgusting pudding.

    Come on DFLs stand up and be counted.

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