Martin & Judy's Story

Martin and Judy live near the quiet village of Riby in North Lincolnshire. They know all their neighbours, go to church socials up the road and Martin looks after all the hedges and communal paths in the area.

In a lot of ways, it’s a picture of idyllic English country life, but it’s a million miles away from where they were this time last winter.

 “They turfed us out just to get more rent.”

Forced to leave a farmhouse in Grange de Lings where they’d made their home for five years, Martin and Judy ended up living in a caravan without heating or water for several months. Things got so bad that Judy attempted suicide.

“The owner of the farm died, and his son wanted the farmhouse back. They said they had to sell it, because of death duties, but it wasn’t – we were paying £500 a month and after they got us out, all of a sudden they started renting it for £750. When we went there, everything was in wrack and ruin, the massive garden and orchard was all brambles; I spent about three years clearing it all out and got it looking lovely. Then they turf us out just to get more rent.”

Martin suffers from mental ill health and can’t work, and Judy retired through poor health and mobility issues.

“We’d tried the council for property and we’d tried numerous private landlords and none of them worked out – and the rents were either way above our ability, or they didn’t want any dogs there, or DSS payments. We were just coming up against a stone wall and as the eviction date was coming closer, I thought well, I’m from Wales and I don’t know anyone in the area and I just felt suddenly lost.”

A friend offered Martin and Judy a small towing caravan, and with no other options, they had to move in, having to get rid of their furniture, and quickly sell good quality farming equipment for thousands less than it was worth, in the process. Martin had tools stolen from his friend’s barn, along with personal, sentimental items.

“It was just one thing after another, we were just sinking. Judy took an overdose and ended up in Lincoln Hospital. Then they said they couldn’t discharge her without a suitable environment to go back to.”

The couple were referred to the charity Framework, who provided temporary accommodation in Gainsborough.

“It was heavenly. Suddenly we had somewhere to go to, and it was a massive sigh of relief. The little things in life which normally you take for granted, like free access to a toilet - unless you’ve been in a position where you don’t have that…it’s a terrible situation to be in.”

“All of a sudden we were getting our self-respect back”

P3 work in collaboration with the local Framework service in Lincolnshire, to support people who need help moving on from their temporary housing. Martin and Judy were put in touch with Martin Keen, Support Worker for P3’s Lincolnshire Floating Support service.

Martin & Judy's new community in Riby

“This place came up, and Martin K brought us over here to see it. P3 – we’d never even heard of it – came on the scene and then everything just changed. It was like a magic wand. All of a sudden we were getting our self-respect back. You go from having no hope to having everything to look forward to.”

Their new home sits on a quiet row of bungalows off the main road. Starlings gather around the bird table in the back garden, beyond which stretch green, tree-lined fields, perfect for walking the couple’s two dogs.

“They’re country people round here,” Martin says. “They’ve worked on farms all their lives, and they have a lot of the traditional, old-fashioned principles. Everybody’s really friendly.”

Providing support in the community

Floating Support is about enabling people to regain their independence and start to manage their own tenancy, which can include many different kinds of support, from help with the practicalities of moving to a new home, to simply being someone to talk to in the tougher moments.

Martin K said: “After they’d settled in the house, Judy phoned me up one day because something cropped up and they just needed that little bit of support. So I came out and Martin wasn’t in the best place in his head, and a lot of that was because, he hadn’t gone out - or wasn’t ready to go out - into the community.”

“I felt cynical,” Martin W continues. “Martin asked me, ‘have you been to the church yet’, as I’ve always had a spiritual need, but I couldn’t bring myself to go. I felt so low. You think, I can’t go up to the church because people will look down on me. After everything that had happened, you don’t trust anybody.

“Anyway, Harvest Festival came last year and I heard Martin’s words in my mind ‘you ought to go, and everything will be alright’. And as soon as I opened the door in the church, everybody just came towards me and welcomed me and I’ve been going ever since.”

“You’ve not only benefited me, you’ve benefited the whole community”

 “Just before this Christmas I bought a tractor again and I’m using it in the community. I do all the neighbour’s hedges now. I don’t charge for it, it’s just so I’ve got something to do. I’ve cleared the road right up to the village of Riby; it hadn’t been done for about 30 years and now the road up there is a third wider than it was!

“Because I suffer with depression, if I don’t feel up to doing it, I don’t feel guilty because nobody’s paying me to do it. But sometimes I do up to a week’s worth of work up there. And I think, well I’m justifying my life, I’ve served a purpose today.”

As we leave the house, Martin W shakes Martin K by the hand, thanking him again for his support.

“You’ve not only benefitted me, you've benefitted the whole community.”

For more information on P3 Lincolnshire Floating Support, follow the link to our service page, or call 01522 304510 to refer someone for support.