A COUPLE have been forced to live in a shed after they struggled to find work during the Covid pandemic.
Macaulay Johnson and his partner Shannon Cullen, both 21, left their Nottinghamshire home when they could no longer pay the rent.
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Macaulay Johnson and his partner Shannon Cullen, both 21, were booted out of their home when they could no longer pay the rentCredit: BPM
The couple have been forced to live in a shedCredit: BPM
Mr Johnson, who is autistic and was a factory worker before losing his job, moved them both into a local hotel.
But again they were struggling to pay the bill.
Miss Cullen, who used to work in a call centre, had moved to Nottingham from Ireland to be closer to Macaulay after they met playing video game Grand Theft Auto online.
The pair had lived together for a year at their home in Bestwood before the coronavirus pandemic hit and they found it increasingly difficult to survive.
With a trolley full of clothes and their Playstation, they set up a tent in different spots of Gedling borough hoping the local authority would offer support.
One night, the terrified couple said their tent was slashed with a knife as a thief attempted to get inside and steal their valuables.
Suffering with the bitterly cold weather and the fear of further attacks, Macaulay started to beg outside Tesco in Bulwell, hoping they could raise enough cash each day to get a hotel room.
Little did they know that Ian and Lisa Marshall, both 43, of Bulwell, were about to offer them a place to stay.
Heartbroken by what they saw, the Marshalls offered them a roof over their heads in the form of a shed at the bottom of their garden while they sorted themselves out.
They have even decked the space out with an electric heater, a mattress, and are feeding the couple each day.
They are also letting them use their shower facilities when they aren’t at home.
Mrs Marshall said she wishes she could do more, but due to Covid-19 and her own health issues, she can’t have them sleeping in the house.
She said: “I don’t know them. We went for a walk to Tesco and we saw them outside and when I saw the lady it really pulled at my heart.
“I was walking around Tesco and it was niggling at me. I said ‘you can put your stuff in our shed if you want’ but as we were walking back they said ‘can we stay in the shed?’ and I said ‘yes.’
“They are human beings. There is no humanity anymore.
“I have got no money but how can I turn these two people away? They don’t take drugs. They are much safer here than out there – that’s what I think when I go to bed at night.
“My mum says ‘you do this all the time, Lisa?’ I said ‘you need to meet them mum.’ He had his Playstation with him and they have got lovely clothes.
“I wondered what would happen to my son if anything happened to me. I would hope someone would help him.”
All four have been on the phone to Gedling Borough Council but because the pair have no connection to the area the pair say they cannot be housed there.
Mr Johnson, who has lived in the city since he was one, used to live in Sutton-in-Ashfield but he says the local authority won’t house them both as a couple.
They have been left “in limbo” and have no close family members they can call on for support.
Mr Johnson said: “We have rung the councils every day. We have been on the streets for two weeks and sleeping in a tent by the tram tracks.
“One night the tent got stabbed by a random person. When I woke up they tried to unzip it and I shouted and they ran away. It was really horrible – and it was freezing cold.
“We have struggled to get a job during the pandemic. I was begging outside a takeaway just so we could keep up with the hotel bill. We have tried to do everything the right way.”
Miss Cullen said: “The council keeps saying ‘why can’t you go back to Ireland?’ but I have been here since 2017. We have been referred back and forth about 20 times.
“We would have died on the streets if we had not been given this shed. I was waking up and my whole body was cold in the tent.”
Mr Johnson added: “We are so lucky we ran into them. They put heaters in there. I have never met nicer people. They did not need to do any of this.
“Some homeless people are drug addicts. We don’t even drink alcohol. We are just a normal couple that wants a roof over our head.”
A spokesman for Gedling Borough Council said: “We are now aware of the situation and have contacted the couple and put them in temporary accommodation until we find a longterm solution.”
Landlords in England have to give tenants six months’ notice if they wish to boot them out after a ban on evictions during the pandemic ended late last year.
What to do if you can’t pay your rent
FOR private renters, speak to your landlord as soon as you can.
They may be able to defer your payment, or to allow you to pay a smaller amount – but they don’t have to do this.
Social renters should speak to their housing association or local council.
If you’ve tried speaking to your housing association or landlord and they aren’t being sympathetic, contact Shelter for advice and support. They’ll be able to guide you about what to do next.
If you’re finding it difficult to manage your payments because you’re in debt, here are some tips for you to curb it:
Check your bank balance on a regular basis – knowing your spending patterns is the first step to managing your money
Work out your budget – by writing down your income and taking away your essential bills such as food and transport
If you have money left over, plan in advance what else you’ll spend or save. If you don’t, look at ways to cut your costs
Pay off more than the minimum – If you’ve got credit card debts aim to pay off more than the minimum amount on your credit card each month to bring down your bill quicker
Pay your most expensive credit card sooner – If you have more than one credit card and can’t pay them off in full each month, prioritise the most expensive card (the one with the highest interest rate)
Prioritise your debts – If you’ve got several debts and you can’t afford to pay them all it’s important to prioritise them. Your rent, mortgage, council tax and energy bills should be paid first because the consequences can be more serious if you don’t pay
Get advice – If you’re struggling to pay your debts month after month it’s important you get advice as soon as possible, before they build up even further.
Groups like Citizens Advice, Money Advice Trust or StepChange can also help you prioritise and negotiate with your creditors to offer you more affordable repayment plans
The shed has an electric heater and a mattressCredit: Nottingham Post/Marie Wilson