Couple, both 21, forced to live in shed after struggling to find work during pandemic

A COUPLE have been forced to live in a shed after they struggled to find work during the Covid pandemic.

Macaulay Johnson and his partner Shannon Cullen, both 21, were booted out of their Nottinghamshire home when they could no longer pay the rent.

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Mr Johnson, who is autistic and was a factory worker before losing his job, moved them both into a local hotel.

But again they were struggling to pay the bill.

Miss Cullen, who used to work in a call centre, had moved to Nottingham from Ireland to be closer to Macaulay after they met playing video game Grand Theft Auto online.

The pair had lived together for a year at their home in Bestwood before the coronavirus pandemic hit and they found it increasingly difficult to survive.

With a trolley full of clothes and their Playstation, they set up a tent in different spots of Gedling borough hoping the local authority would offer support.

One night, the terrified couple said their tent was slashed with a knife as a thief attempted to get inside and steal their valuables.

Suffering with the bitterly cold weather and the fear of further attacks, Macaulay started to beg outside Tesco in Bulwell, hoping they could raise enough cash each day to get a hotel room.

Little did they know that Ian and Lisa Marshall, both 43, of Bulwell, were about to offer them a place to stay.

Heartbroken by what they saw, the Marshalls offered them a roof over their heads in the form of a shed at the bottom of their garden while they sorted themselves out.

They have even decked the space out with an electric heater, a mattress, and are feeding the couple each day.

They are also letting them use their shower facilities when they aren't at home.

Mrs Marshall said she wishes she could do more, but due to Covid-19 and her own health issues, she can't have them sleeping in the house.

She said: "I don't know them. We went for a walk to Tesco and we saw them outside and when I saw the lady it really pulled at my heart.

"I was walking around Tesco and it was niggling at me. I said 'you can put your stuff in our shed if you want' but as we were walking back they said 'can we stay in the shed?' and I said 'yes.'

"They are human beings. There is no humanity anymore.

"I have got no money but how can I turn these two people away? They don't take drugs. They are much safer here than out there – that's what I think when I go to bed at night.

"My mum says 'you do this all the time, Lisa?' I said 'you need to meet them mum.' He had his Playstation with him and they have got lovely clothes.

“I wondered what would happen to my son if anything happened to me. I would hope someone would help him.”

HOUSING STRUGGLES

All four have been on the phone to Gedling Borough Council but because the pair have no connection to the area the pair say they cannot be housed there.

Mr Johnson, who has lived in the city since he was one, used to live in Sutton-in-Ashfield but he says the local authority won't house them both as a couple.

They have been left "in limbo" and have no close family members they can call on for support.

Mr Johnson said: "We have rung the councils every day. We have been on the streets for two weeks and sleeping in a tent by the tram tracks.

"One night the tent got stabbed by a random person. When I woke up they tried to unzip it and I shouted and they ran away. It was really horrible – and it was freezing cold.

“We have struggled to get a job during the pandemic. I was begging outside a takeaway just so we could keep up with the hotel bill. We have tried to do everything the right way.”

Miss Cullen said: "The council keeps saying 'why can't you go back to Ireland?' but I have been here since 2017. We have been referred back and forth about 20 times.

“We would have died on the streets if we had not been given this shed. I was waking up and my whole body was cold in the tent.”

Mr Johnson added: "We are so lucky we ran into them. They put heaters in there. I have never met nicer people. They did not need to do any of this.

"Some homeless people are drug addicts. We don't even drink alcohol. We are just a normal couple that wants a roof over our head."

A spokesman for Gedling Borough Council said: "We are now aware of the situation and have contacted the couple and put them in temporary accommodation until we find a longterm solution."


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