Toni Swyer, 44, and Mark Hilton, 42, are back living in a doorway in Hull, and they blame cruel benefit cuts
A couple who found love while living on the streets have said cruel benefit cuts forced them out of their new home, and they are now back living on cardboard boxes.
Toni Swyer, 44, and Mark Hilton, 42, are back living in a doorway in Hull, and their desperate plight has even led to an apparent accidental drug-taking in the search for a few moments of comfort.
“We don’t touch drugs,” Toni told the Hull Daily Mail . “But on Thursday Mark picked up a cigarette tab from the floor to smoke. It must have had Spice or something in it because he started frothing at the mouth. “I had to fetch him an ambulance. I was worried. The paramedics were treating him over there, on the benches.”
The couple rely on the generosity of passersby, some surprised to see them back at square one, for food and clothing to keep them alive in bone-chilling temperatures.
They had both endured years of hardship, but finally believed they had stumbled on their pot of gold at the end of the rainbow when they were given the keys to a house in February.
However, they say their benefits were suddenly stopped and they could no longer afford to pay their rent or bills, forcing them back onto the streets, to the same doorway. Heartbroken Toni, who also goes by the surname Fairburn, said: “Life is cruel. It’s like we have been set up to fail.
“We really thought we had turned a corner, improved our lives, now here we are back in the same doorway. “They’ve told us we didn’t show up for medicals in Stanley Street but we never got a letter or anything. We’ve tried ringing the benefits people but we’ve heard nothing.”
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Toni told of the grim reality of being a rough sleeper in Hull, desperately trying to keep warm and warding off dealers. “It’s really cold,” she said. “Especially at night. It’s freezing. “It makes you feel down, depressed, like you’ve nothing.”
Mark, who has been homeless intermittently since the age of 13, said: “A guy came up to us the other day and said you can’t be homeless – you’ve both got bikes. But they were given to us. “No one seems to care about us. It’s all about the fat cats in this world.
Prior to moving into their home, Toni and Mark had found respite in a derelict building that had been turned into a squat by a group calling themselves Activists For Love. The couple spent 42 days in the building, before MRC Lettings, which owns the building, found homes for all ten of the squatters.
MRC Lettings could not be contacted for comment owing to the Easter break.
However, Michelle Clark, the company’s operational director, previously said: “We worked with a great number of charities in Hull and we all pulled together to offer homes with necessary support packages in place, which will enable those who were homeless to continue on the journeys they had started on.”