Lady in the Van
Posted on August 1st, 2017 at 12:41PM
We would love to bring you the story of C, a lady who was helped by Selby and District Foodbank, and the generous donors of Acts 435. The Project Manager, Mark Barnett, at the Foodbank project has written to describe her story.
"I'm the Advocate for Acts 435 at the Selby & District Foodbank. I want to update you about a remarkable lady who I shall call C.
We first met C when she came to the Foodbank some two months ago. She was homeless and living in a van. She had previously shared a rented house but the owner wanted it back for the family. C had four dogs and a parrot, a complete love of animals. She was working as a part-time teacher, her subject areas being farming and horse management in which she was qualified.
To get to know this lady brings the understanding of this lady - calm, caring, intelligent and not prepared to give up her animals. They are her family. If she had no animals I'm sure Housing would have been able to find her somewhere. She wouldn't and couldn't give up her animals. The part-time work virtually dried up and she found herself homeless, living in her van, trying to park up without bothering anyone or being bothered by anyone. The latter took place and she didn't always feel safe as she was being bothered. Being of strong character, she sorted that situation herself, with words and nothing else. To say C was at a low ebb is a complete understatement. I do not know how she was managing emotionally.
One of our Volunteers particularly encouraged her to visit our Foodbank regularly. We'll call our volunteer V. C was able to wash and change in our facilities. V helped her with a vegetarian food pack each time she visited and with a few things from home. In addition, we funded a small amount of petrol in order that she could move her van and stay safe as needs be. We had just got to know about Acts435 and C became our first application. We asked for donations that would purchase basic camping equipment - a gas stove, cool box, a water carrier, cooking and eating utensils and an inverter for her van so she could use a plug-in kettle or the suchlike. The response was almost immediate and you should have seen C's face when we gave her the equipment we bought on her behalf. That makes the work we do so worthwhile.
I think it was at this exact point that C started to take control of her life again. She was receiving a very minimal amount from the Job Centre - literally a few pounds a week. She started to apply for full-time jobs. Her Catch 22 was that she had no fixed address to use and there was no one in her family that was interested in her or her situation. I suggested she use c/o our address at the Foodbank. C had a couple of interviews but no luck. Then she received a call on a Thursday, to attend for interview on the Friday and she got the job on the Saturday! No ordinary job - Stable Yard Manager for 60+ horses near Settle, North Yorkshire. The job came with a rent-free cottage, five acres of land for C's sole use and a salary! Someone was looking down on this lady! I suspect there'll be some rescue horses on that land very soon.
Zero to hero in my book! A little "gift" from Acts435, a little compassion from V and colleagues - sorted! If I had to list everything in a column that would normally have stopped this lady from getting out of her situation, it would have been a very long list. For once, things conspired in C's favour and for that, we are truly blessed."