AN ELDERLY couple are living rough on the streets of Bournemouth, prompting shocked reactions from charity workers.
The two pensioners were evicted from their privately-rented home in Charminster in April, and have been sleeping rough since then – relying on soup kitchens to eat – while an issue with their pension payments is resolved.
It is believed that after the pensions system changed, they were told they had to have their pensions paid electronically into a bank account. Because they were unable to carry on collecting their money in their usual way, they were unable to pay their rent.
According to Bournemouth Council, they have been offered emergency accommodation but have refused.
Bath-based charity volunteer Robin Richmond came across the couple, aged 84 and 75, on the seafront earlier this month while he was helping a local church get set up to assist local homeless people.
He described the meeting as ‘an eye opener’.
“They have helped people through voluntary organisations and it is a real pity that in their hour of need they have been left to live on the streets,” he said.
“At a time when people are so concerned about the misuse of benefits it appears that the system is radically failing a couple who, on the face of it, we should be honouring and not forgetting.”
Bournemouth Borough Council’s strategic housing manager, Kelly Ansell, said: “The couple’s situation was recently assessed and they were offered emergency accommodation but this was refused.
“We would urge them to make further contact with the council’s housing team.”
Sarah Carroll, head of community services at Age UK Bournemouth, also urged the couple to get in touch.
“It shouldn’t really get to this point, it is quite outrageous,” she said.
She said sometimes elderly people were reluctant to speak to social services due to pride, stubbornness or a desire not to be a burden.
“I understand a lot of people have tried to engage with them, clearly they can’t sort this out on their own.”
Bournemouth Town Centre Parish Team Rector Reverend Dr Ian Terry said: “I am shocked to hear this.
“Homelessness is a blight on our society – nobody should be without a home.
“It is particularly shocking to hear that they are such an elderly couple.”
He said he wasn’t surprised to hear that the council had offered practical assistance, but added: “What the sad example of this couple shows is that, although things are being done, they are not being done quickly enough, and there is a need for further action.”
The Daily Echo spoke to the couple, who said they would prefer to remain anonymous.