A 34-year-old man had his toes amputated after experiencing severe frostbite for living in a tent for eight months.
Because they were unable to settle the bedroom tax, Mitchell Keenan, who was living with his aging father Keith, was evicted from their four-bedroom house where they lived for three decades.
This forced the father and son duo, both experiencing neurological conditions, to spend more than half a year in a tent in Beacon Country Park last winter.
Keith, 62, a former car park attendant, has dementia, epilepsy and neurological problems. He was also diagnosed with other severe health issues like malnourishment and scabies, while his son is experiencing agoraphobia.
In an earlier story by the Mirror, Keith’s sister Dawn Doyle, narrated how the two suffered trying to make ends meet.
She said, “They had their benefits sanctioned and things just spiralled out of control, they both have neurological conditions and disabilities and kept missing job interviews, so the problem got worse and worse.”
They could not afford the bedroom tax imposed on their home. The older Keenan’s wife died of cancer and their other two sons left home leaving Keith to pay the two rooms out of his disability benefits.
“Mitchell has severe agoraphobia and couldn’t deal with the Job Centre any more, so he was living from Keith’s benefits. They were coping until the bedroom tax pushed them over the edge and they started getting into arrears,” she said.
She tried to take Keith to the Job Centre to explain his condition but no one listened.
She also said Keith was not receiving his benefits because the Department for Work and Pensions denied that Keith was officially sanctioned.
A spokesman for the department said, “Mr. Keenan and his son have never been sanctioned and continue to be supported through benefits and by job center staff.”
“We have given their local council hundreds of thousands of pounds to support vulnerable people through our housing benefit reforms.”
Dawn is a single mother who is also disabled suffering from fibromyalgia, osteoarthritis, dystonia and other conditions. She is unable to take in his brother and nephew home but she tries to supply them with food from local food banks.
Upon being discharged from the hospital, the local West Lancashire Borough Council admitted Mitchell while Keith is now in a homeless charity.