Theatre recovery nurse Nikki Campbell, 42, spent her Christmas Day weeping and walking her two dogs before sleeping in a car borrowed from her nephew in Wallasey, Merseyside
Image: Liverpool Echo)
A nurse is sleeping in her car after becoming homeless two days before Christmas.
Nikki Campbell, 42, spent Christmas Day “crying” and walking her two dogs before sleeping in a car she borrowed from her nephew, on New Brighton Promenade in Wallasey, Merseyside
The hard-working theatre recovery nurse was forced to wash and brush her teeth in supermarket toilets and has spent almost a fortnight in a state of high anxiety.
Nikki, who works at the Royal Liverpool Hospital, had been staying at her sister’s address in Wallasey since July 2020, but their relationship broke down and she was forced to leave with her pug, Junior, and Shih Tzu, Daisy.
Prior to that she had been renting a house in Wavertree, but had to leave when her landlord wanted to sell up.
Nikki told the Liverpool Echo: “On December 24th I called Wirral housing options and they said I was from Liverpool so it was Liverpool Council that needs to deal with it.
“On December 28 I went to the Whitechapel Centre and they helped me fill in the paperwork.
“But Liverpool [Council] said I was not a priority and it should be Wirral Council. The whole thing has been a battle.
“I just need a little bit of help. I know there’s people worse off than me but it has been probably the hardest time of my life.
“It’s more about the dogs than anything. I just feel so bad for them, I think if I didn’t have anything else to worry about apart from myself it wouldn’t be quite as bad.”
A spokesman for Wirral Council told the ECHO when contacted on December 24, its Housing Options team had directed Nikki to the Outreach Team to “assist further with accommodation” but that the offer was “not taken up”.
However Nikki is adamant she was told Wirral Council could not help her and in fact closed her case.
With nowhere to go on Christmas Eve, Nikki again slept in the car by New Brighton Promenade, where she awoke on Christmas morning.
She said: “I didn’t really sleep, it’s just stressful. You can’t relax.
“Junior is 18 months old and he barks at the slightest sound so you just don’t settle. It hasn’t been too cold, and I feel like I have been complaining too much because at least I have a car to sleep in.
“But it’s quite scary because you just don’t know who is coming up, especially with Junior barking at everything so you’re always on edge.”
Describing Christmas Day, she said: “I just cried. It was the most miserable day to be honest.
“I tried to busy myself, I took the dogs on a marathon walk and tried to keep my mind on something else but it was hard to do that.
“You just don’t want to bother anyone and I didn’t tell my friends until that night.”
On December 29, with her mental health suffering, Nikki called a crisis line who alerted Merseyside Police.
She said: “The police were fantastic really, they came and got me and took me to the station and phoned the outreach teams for me, they said ‘you need to help this lady’.
“I found out then that Wirral Council had closed my case.”
Nikki claims she spoke with officials from both councils, but despite outreach workers from Liverpool coming to assess her, no offer of emergency housing has been made.
There were two nights of respite when a charity secured a room in the Ibis Hotel on Dale Street, Liverpool City Centre, but as of yesterday Nikki was back on the streets with her dogs.
Nikki, who says she had a traumatic childhood and has no immediate family to call on, is now facing an uncertain future and says she may have to give up her dogs so she can continue to work.
She said: “I can’t go and work a 12 hour shift in the hospital and leave them in the car, I am going to try and get them fostered temporarily.”
‘Local connection’ rules surrounding homelessness state a rough sleeper must have lived in the area for six months before an offer of housing can be made.
Last month the ECHO reported on how a man sleeping in a tent in the Garston area was not offered help as he was originally from Manchester, but had left the city due to threats.
The local connection rule can be ignored in situations when Severe Weather Emergency Protocol (SWEPS) is activated, but in Liverpool that requires the temperature to drop below 2°C.
At the beginning of the covid pandemic, councils were provided with funding by the government to house all rough sleepers identified in their patch regardless of local connection or immigration status.
In Liverpool that scheme, known as Everyone In, ended and the council now requires proof of a local connection to place rough sleepers in emergency accommodation.
Wirral Council said in a statement: “Wirral Council Housing Options team was approached on December 24 regarding help with housing. Wirral Council will always offer support and advice for those people who are sleeping rough or at risk of sleeping rough.
“As such this individual was provided with the Outreach Team contact who could assist her further with accommodation if she had nowhere else to go. It is understood this offer was not taken up.
“Subsequent contact has been made and further assistance offered, however, it is understood this person has chosen to seek accommodation outside of the borough, although the option remains for her to take up relevant support if needed in Wirral.”
Liverpool Council was contacted for comment and the ECHO understands Nikki was assessed by the local authority between Christmas and New Year.