After teaching English abroad for over eight years, Hillary Barrows, returned to the U.K. She had been renting a place to live with hopes of finding work. When the work didn’t come, she found herself out of money and out of a place to live. She was forced to live in her 20-year-old Alfa Romeo with her two dogs, Robbie and Cleo, who Barrows rescued in Spain. Robbie is an eight-year-old Egyptian Pharaoh Hound and Cleo is a Labrador mix.
Barrows is divorced and has no family living in the U.K. She had been offered emergency council accommodations while she waited for a more permanent place, but she would have to give up her dogs. She knew she couldn’t give them up.
For now, she and her dogs are parked at the 24-hour grocery store, ASDA, in Canterbury. She is close to the Salvation Army where she was eat and shower and a MacDonald’s where she charges her phone and laptop.
“The RSPCA have been out to visit the dogs twice and they have no problem living in the car,” Barrows says. “I can only afford one meal every other day, just so my dogs don’t go without food.”
She’s stuck between a rock and a hard place. Although Barrows sends out resumes, she cannot get hired because she lives in her car. Another issue is that she was out of the country for so long that she is currently not a priority for job seekers allowance. It will be another three months before her case would be considered.
“I can’t afford to pay the deposit for a new flat and I don’t have a guarantor, I also can’t be credit checked because I have not been back in the country for long enough.The way I feel, I might be living in this car forever. Who in their right mind would hire a teacher who lives in a car?”
Until then, she will be parked in that ASDA lot. The ASDA employees take pity on her and bring her hot water so she can make soup.
Barrows has started a crowdfunding campaign at GoFundMe so that she can find somewhere for her and her dogs to stay while she continues to look for work.
“I have never been on benefits in my life before, I have a degree. I have diplomas. I am in a no-win situation – I don’t want people to feel sorry for me, I just want someone to give me a hand-up,” she explains.
“Hopefully this time next week me and my dogs can have a home.”