Family of five on Universal Credit face eviction over unpaid rent


The plight of Amy Winter, Joshua Thain, and their three children in Rotherham serves as a stark reminder of the pervasive issue of housing insecurity faced by many families, particularly those on low incomes. Eviction due to unpaid rent not only places immediate pressure on the family but also underscores systemic challenges within the housing and welfare systems. Despite being on Universal Credit, a safety net designed to assist individuals and families with living costs, Amy and Joshua feel let down by the support they have received from Barnsley Council. This raises questions about the adequacy of social welfare provisions and the effectiveness of local authorities in addressing the needs of vulnerable households.

The circumstances surrounding the family’s eviction are further complicated by the passing of Joshua’s mother, Victoria Robertshaw, whose name the tenancy was in. Her death, especially amidst the backdrop of the COVID-19 pandemic, adds layers of legal and emotional complexity to the situation. It’s conceivable that navigating the intricacies of property ownership and tenancy rights amidst grief and financial strain would be daunting for any family, let alone one expecting a new addition.


Amy’s pregnancy adds urgency and heightened concern to their predicament. The stress and anxiety of facing eviction while expecting a child undoubtedly take a toll on the family’s well-being. It’s alarming that they feel compelled to isolate themselves due to their circumstances, highlighting the isolating and debilitating effects of housing insecurity on individuals and families. The inability to engage in typical social activities due to worries about their living situation further exacerbates their sense of isolation and marginalization.

Moreover, the limited support network available to the family underscores the broader societal challenges of intergenerational poverty and familial instability. While they have sought help from relatives, the options available to them appear limited, with only Joshua’s uncle providing some form of support despite living far away. This lack of familial support exacerbates their vulnerability and underscores the need for robust social safety nets and community resources to assist families facing housing crises.

The involvement of Sanctuary Housing as the property owner introduces another dimension to the situation. As a housing provider, Sanctuary Housing has a responsibility to engage with tenants in a compassionate and supportive manner, especially during times of hardship. It’s imperative that they work collaboratively with the family and local authorities to explore all possible avenues for support, including potential rent arrears assistance, mediation services, and alternative housing options.

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