Plymouth family burnt out, burgled and made homeless
A YOUNG family have been left homeless after a spate of incidents including being the victims of arson.
Problems began for Craig Clarke and his partner Chelsea Westgate at their St Budeaux home during the night of October 12 last year.
Arsonists had set fire to a drying room next to the property while the couple, who have two young children, Kurtis aged two and Shantelle aged seven months, were asleep.
They were awoken to the "hammering" of neighbours desperately trying to wake them.
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"If it wasn't for our neighbours knocking on our door and waking us up things could have been far worse," Craig explained.
He said that fire officers then confirmed the cause of the blaze was arson.
Several weeks after the fire, in the midst of heavy rainfall, the 22-year-old father-of-two noticed mould on the bedroom ceilings and parts of the wall crumbling.
The couple called their landlords, Sanctuary Housing on November 25. After a visit from surveyors the next day the family were told of the work required and that work would begin on December 21.
But the family are still no closer to getting home.
After two weeks on the front room floor of Craig's parents' house they were moved into a hotel on January 8 where they have remained ever since.
On January 20 they were asked to leave the Future Inn as their "booking hadn't been renewed". They were asked to check into a different hotel before being asked to return to the original one.
Craig said: "I understand that we needed to be re-housed but we still find this whole situation totally unacceptable."
On January 30 scaffolding eventually went up around their St Budeaux property – only for the family to discover on February 1 they had been burgled.
Thieves broke into their room on the fifth floor and stole their television, jewellery, a small amount of cash belonging to the children and presents they had only just received for Christmas.
Craig added: "To get burgled on top of all this – we just can't believe it. My family just don't want to go back there any more.
"We are still living in a hotel, this is totally unacceptable, there are four of us living in one room which measures 20 by 20 feet.
"We first reported the problem on November 26 and 10 weeks later we are still no closer to a suitable solution. It has been a complete shambles from start to finished and it's affecting our lives.
"We are unable to send Kurtis to nursery and hope they understand and keep his place open for him.
"We really don't know what to do, we are stuck in a hotel through no fault of our own, can't get any answers and unable to move on."
Richard Keeley, Head of Housing Operations for Sanctuary in the South West, said: "We understand that this is an upsetting and unsettling time for the family, and we are supporting them to move back into permanent accommodation as quickly as possible.
"Repairs to their home have taken longer than initially thought, as the full extent of the damage only became clear after work began, but we are keeping Mr Clarke and his family informed of our progress."