To make sure you never miss out on your favourite NEW stories, we're happy to send you some reminders
Click 'OK' then 'Allow' to enable notifications
Featured Image Credit: SWNS.com
If you were to make a list of the most highly regarded workers in the UK, NHS staff would probably be top of the list. That's why it's so sad when one finds herself struggling.
A former NHS nurse has been forced to live in her car with her pet chihuahua and eat food from bins for months after her disability benefits were cut.
Ann Cumberland-Quinn, 55, of Ely, Cambridgeshire, says that she is barely suviving and her health is starting to suffer.
Anne, who has been sleeping in her car with her dog Chanel for over a year, has a condition called paresthesia, which causes weakness in all four limbs.
"I have been living in my car," Anne said. "A friend took me in for two days then she's moved on."
"My neck is really killing me. Sleeping in the car, my neck locks," she added. "I told the doctor I was screaming in pain and I can't put the chair down in that car because it's an old car.
"I've been going to garbage bins, anywhere... people's houses at three o'clock in the morning and it is not very nice when I'm wet and my trousers are all wet. I am incontinent both ends and I'm ashamed."
Ann's condition has been steadily deteriorating and yet she says she has found herself verbally abused by members of the public who accuse her of being a 'benefits cheat'.
Despite her condition, she has not been housed by her local council and is not receiving disability payments despite her being incontinent and struggling to walk.
"I can't go on like this," Anne said. "This is emotional, mental and physical abuse from everybody. They [the DWP] say I haven't got proof of entitlement... I can't hold a pen to write because my hands have dropped."
The Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) have confirmed that Anne is not getting any disability allowance, also known as personal independence payment (PIP).
However, a spokesman said she is receiving employment support allowance as the DWP believe her to be fit to work.
He said: "Decisions for PIP are made following consideration of all the information provided by the claimant and their GP or medical specialist, and anyone who disagrees with a decision can appeal."
While the DWP said it believed that Ann found a place to stay in August, in September her doctor said she had 'no fixed abode'.
According to medical documents, Ann was assessed in September by a neurosurgeon as being only able to walk 'using two crutches with great difficulty'. She is currently on the waiting list for spinal surgery.
Ann claims that she has ongoing legal issues with her local council, East Cambridgeshire District Council (ECDC), but cannot get legal aid since it was slashed by the coalition government in 2012.
She says that she keeps getting moved on by the council, mentioning that they have previously threatened to fine her £150 for staying in a car park.
Ann claims that homeless shelters do not want to take her in because of her dog, Chanel.
Commenting on Ann's case, Cllr Mike Rouse, service delivery champion for East Cambs District Council, said: "We cannot provide information on individual cases, but we always ensure assistance is given to anyone who approaches the council with homelessness issues, whatever their circumstances."