Worthing mother living in friend’s conservatory after council ‘leaves her on streets’

A mother has been living in her friend’s conservatory for months after claiming the council left her on the streets.

Wednesday, 12th February 2020, 10:12 am
Jemma Studd and daughter Layla, nine. Photo by Derek Martin Photography

Jemma Studd and her two children were put in emergency accomodation by Worthing Borough Council in January 2019.

But months later, the council decided she had made herself homeless and evicted them – despite Jemma being signed off work for mental health issues including PTSD, she said. The 35-year-old added: “They have just left me and my family. If I didn’t have my friend, I would be on the streets.”

A month after the former cleaner was signed off in October 2018, the landlord of her privately rented house in St Thomas’s Road, Tarring, asked for it back due to factors unrelated to her.

After moving out in January, the council put Jemma’s things in storage and eventually moved the family into an emergency one-bedroom flat, where they stayed until November when the council evicted her.

Social services moved Jemma’s children in with her daughter Layla’s father, and her friend let her stay in her conservatory in Durrington.

The arrangement was meant to be for two weeks – but three months later, Jemma is still there with her possessions locked away and owing more than £1,600 in storage costs she claimed she knew nothing about until recently. She said she was struggling to pay this back, and the debt meant she could not get council housing.

The situation affected the GCSE exams of Jemma’s son Lenny, 16, and put a strain on family life as she tried to move her children back in with her.

She said: “My kids are all I have, I don’t have any other family; my life is my son and my daughter. I feel completely rubbish as a mother because I can’t get us out of this situation, and I’m asking all the people that are meant to be helping me.”

Worthing Borough Council said the ‘housing duty’ was with West Sussex County Council’s Children’s Services, which did not comment.