Kent man forced to sleep at seafront and drink Wetherspoons refill coffee after sudden plunge into homelessness

Gary Evans, 65, now that he is homeless.
-Credit: (Image: SWNS)

A Kent man who has worked all his life has revealed just how easy it was to become homeless aged 65. Gary Evans gave up his private rental flat of 13 years for a new job as a live-in carer in October 2023.

But his plans fell through when the woman he was due to care for died just before he was due to start work. He burned through his minimal savings of £500 in a matter of weeks staying in hotels while he tried to find alternative accommodation.

He earns between £200 and £700 a month from his amusement park job, depending on the season, with up to £393 universal credit, in the lower months. This simply isn't enough to rent a new place to live, he says.

And he says Thanet District Council told him they can't help him get a home. So for the last six weeks Gary has been sleeping at the seafront at Ramsgate, Kent.

Gary Evans, 65, before he was homeless.
Gary Evans, 65, before he was homeless. -Credit:SWNS

Between work, he spends his days in the library applying for jobs and in Wetherspoon drinking free-refill coffee. He said: "I'm still shocked at how quickly things fell apart for me and I ended up homeless.

"It's true what they say about everyone only being two pay cheques away from poverty. You think it will never happen to you but it can so easily happen to any one of us. I've always worked hard and paid my taxes and national insurance. I thought I'd always be safe and secure.

"Suddenly I had no place to live, no money and no help. There's only so long you can stay with friends or borrow money. Sleeping rough is very scary. I've been woken by a hand on my shoulder and someone telling me 'you're on my patch'.

"It's cold, and frightening, and I rarely sleep. I doze off a bit then wake up suddenly and very alert - it's horrible. When I see the lights on in people's houses it reminds me that once that was me, and now I'm on the other side. It's heartbreaking. I put on a happy face at work, but I know at the end of the day I have to leave and have no safe place to sleep."

Gary became homeless aged 65 and says it's shocking how fast it can happen -Credit:SWNS

Gary stopped working full-time as a cook in a care home after he struggled to recover fully from long covid - which he had for a year from November 2021, he said. He had pneumonia in both lungs and was in hospital for a week, he said, so couldn't go back to working 200-hour months.

He took a part-time position in the ticket office and shop at an amusement park, where he still works between 8 and 25 hours a month. He also receives universal credit because his job is seasonal.

Gary left his rented flat in October because he took a live-in cooking and cleaning job, but his plans fell through when the lady he was due to work for died, he said. He asked Thanet District Council for help getting a new home, in January, but was told they couldn't, he said.

Some of his belongings are in four suitcases stored at friends' houses. Gary takes one suitcase of essentials around with him.

He said: "I still can't really understand how this has happened to me. I know it has but somewhere in my mind I can't quite accept it. "I know it's temporary. I'm going to get another job and a home and get myself out of this situation - I'm not giving up.

"It's just very hard. Everywhere is so expensive, Everyone needs a deposit. I got the deposit back when I left my flat but I needed that to live. There's just nothing available at the moment and lots don't take people who are on benefits.

"I guess I feel a bit sad and resentful that the council can't help me. I feel like they should be there for everyone." Gary said he's met some very kind people and had some fascinating experiences - including spotting wildlife like beavers and foxes.

"I've seen the most beautiful sunrises and sunsets," he said. "You see the best and worst of human nature. Some people give you all the change they have to get some food, even though I don't ask, and some cafes ask you to leave as soon as you're done with your tea even though they're not busy.

"The saddest thing is the friends that don't speak to me anymore when I phone for a chat. When people ask I say I'm not homeless, I say 'I'm waiting for a lift.'" Thanet District Council has been approached for comment.

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