Brent Council helps homeless family after the Times steps in

Mother and two young daughters were living in car after beign forced to flee their home

A single mother who fled her home after her son was attacked, says she was forced to sleep in a car with her children until the Times stepped in.

Vanessa Barlow, 45, and her two youngest daughters slept in the parked vehicle in Barnet for six days. She says Brent Council refused to listen to her homeless plight.

When the Times contacted the council the mother-of-six was offered emergency accommodation outside the borough, which she had pleaded for.

Ms Barlow’s troubles began when in 2009, robbers held her family at gunpoint in their home in Wormwood Terrace, Neasden.

The family moved and was placed in emergency accommodation in Kingsbury but was forced to up sticks again when the adult son was attacked walking home.

He is now living elsewhere.

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Ms Barlow pleaded to be moved for safety reasons but says the council refused to listen to her.

After a short stay with a relative, the family were back on the streets and Ms Barlow and daughters, Kamaria, nine, and Tahirah, six, were discovered sleeping in a car by a concerned passer-by who rang the Times.

Ms Barlow said: “If it hadn’t been for the Times the council wouldn’t have contacted me.

“I had been abandoned by Brent. It was very unfair.

“We couldn’t bath; I couldn’t put them to bed. I lost everything.”

She added: “I never thought I would be homeless with two small children.”

She added: “We need somewhere permanent to settle. My children need some stability.”

A council spokesman said the council had given Miss Barlow highest priority.

He added: “We offered alternative hotel accommodation, both in and outside the borough, and tried to find self contained temporary accommodation but Ms Barlow wanted a permanent property. We couldn’t offer a four-bedroom permanent property as there is a severe shortage and because some parts of the borough may not have been safe.”