Pensioner left freezing cold and alone in cramped caravan while wait for house drags on

Homeless Pensioner Violet Skinner (79) in her caravan, at a Wicken camp site

Homeless Pensioner Violet Skinner (79) in her caravan, at a Wicken camp site - Credit: Archant

A 79-YEAR-old woman has been left freezing cold and isolated in a cramped caravan while she waits for the district council to find her a home.

Violet Skinner took up residence in the caravan at a camp site in Wicken at the beginning of December while she waited for a home to become available but, despite more than a month passing, and the plunging temperatures, she has been left to fend for herself.

Several times this week, as the mercury dipped below freezing, Mrs Skinner was unable to leave her caravan because the door had frozen shut, forcing neighbours to step in.

Her gas heater broke down and the window of her tiny caravan was smashed, leaving her and her three cats freezing.

Mrs Skinner said that she spends all hours of the day in multiple layers of clothing, blankets, hats and gloves just to stay warm.

She told the Ely Standard: “The council promised they would look into getting me a house but it’s all talk, talk, talk. For the last nine months I have been pushed from pillar to post and it is making me sick.

“I have had so much trouble with councils that I won’t believe that they can help me until I see the keys and I’m in the house.”

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On Thursday, she was brought into Ely by worried neighbours and the group confronted staff at East Cambridgeshire District Council’s offices in Nutholt Lane in a desperate bid to find her a home.

Mrs Skinner had been living in a house in Whittlesford, in South Cambs, but was evicted last year following a lengthy and bitter feud with neighbours and a court case. She was moved to a campsite in Fulbourn but had to move on from there following a disagreement with the proprietor.

She is still paying off more than £2,000 in court fines and fees and £80 a week in rent from her pension and has had to rely on help from the John Huntingdon’s Charity with food.

Neighbour Liz Jugg told the Ely Standard: “There are a few of us who are really concerned for her, it’s just not on. We have had no joy from the council at all, they are just not taking her seriously.

“It’s not right that she has been left like this so we are going to sit-in at the council offices until someone helps us.”

A spokesman for East Cambridgeshire District Council could not confirm whether they were dealing with Mrs Skinner’s case but added: “While we do not comment on individual cases, we would always try to offer help and guidance to anyone who came to us for advice and then judge every application on its own merits.”