Can you help find this Sidmouth man a home?

Out in the cold: Rik by his tent on the outskirts of Sidmouth. Picture: Alex Walton

Out in the cold: Rik by his tent on the outskirts of Sidmouth. Picture: Alex Walton - Credit: Archant

A carer, who has spent the past six months living in a tent, is faced with the prospect of spending Christmas under canvas - unless someone can help him find a home.

The man, known locally as Rik, has ‘fallen through the cracks’ of the system.

Determined to stay in Sidmouth as the sole carer for his ex-wife, he has been unable to secure a private rental because of his status as a DSS tenant.

The 52-year-old has spoken to the Herald in the hope of finding someone who can help with his housing situation - and to raise awareness of the issues surrounding people in similar situations.

He said: “I just want the chance to get back on solid ground so I can start rebuilding my life.

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“No matter what I try to do, I just seem to slip between the cracks, and once you fall, you just keep on falling.

“All I’m asking for is the chance to stand on my own two feet.”

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Originally from Wales, Rik moved to Sidmouth three years ago with his wife, who suffers from anxiety issues and social phobias and can require help at short notice.

The pair have since split up, and although they remain close, he is unable to stay full-time in her one-bedroom flat and is forced instead to live in a tent on the outskirts of the town.

But as her sole carer, Rik said he feels responsible for her wellbeing.

“If she calls me, I have to be straight over there,” he said.

Although East Devon District Council has agreed to help with the deposit and rent for a flat, Rik is classed as a ‘DSS tenant’ because he receives some benefits.

“Everywhere you look, the ads say ‘no DSS’, but it’s such a broad brush and, unfortunately, they don’t look at people as an individual,” he said. “If people see how tidy I keep a patch of dirt in the woods, they could imagine how I would look after a flat.”

He praised the help he has received from the Sid Valley Food Bank and All Saints’ Church as ‘invaluable’, and, despite his housing situation, he is able to keep a generally positive outlook.

The Reverend Mark Barrett, curate at All Saints’ Church, said that anyone who could help Rik – either with accommodation or donations – can do so through the church. Mr Barrett can be contacted on 01395 512645.

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