A former NHS nurse who claims to be living out of her car and ‘eating out of bins to survive’ is still sleeping in her vehicle – six months after first speaking out publicly about her ordeal.
Ann Cumberland-Quinn has been forced to sleep in her car in the Cambridgeshire area for more than a year with her pet chihuahua Chanel after her disability benefits slashed after a review.
Yet six months after coming forward about her ordeal to Cambridge News, the 55-year-old’s health has deteriorated drastically and has still not been housed by the council.
Ms Cumberland-Quinn also claims that she is still not receiving any disability payments despite being incontinent and barely being able to walk.
She said: ‘I have been living in my car. A friend took me in for two days then she’s moved on.
Ann Cumberland-Quinn has been forced to sleep in her car in the Cambridgeshire area for more than a year with her pet chihuahua Chanel after her disability benefits slashed after a review
‘My neck is really killing me, sleeping in the car my neck locks. I told the doctor is was screaming in pain and I can’t put the chair down in that car because it’s an old car.
‘I’ve been going to garbage bins, anywhere… people’s houses at three o’clock in the morning and it is not very nice when I’m wet and my trousers are all wet. I am incontinent both ends and I’m ashamed.’
Ms Cumberland-Quinn who suffers from a condition called paresthesia, causing weakness affecting all four limbs.
She continued: ‘I can’t go on like this. This is emotional, mental and physical abuse from everybody. They [the DWP] say I haven’t got proof of entitlement… I can’t hold a pen to write because my hands have dropped.’
A spokesman for the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) confirmed she had not been receiving any disability allowance, known as personal independent payment (PIP).
Yet she does receive employment support allowance – which means she is deemed able to work despite her debilitating condition.
A DWP spokesman said: ‘Decisions for PIP are made following consideration of all the information provided by the claimant and their GP or medical specialist, and anyone who disagrees with a decision can appeal.’
The DWP said it believed Ms Cumberland-Quinn had found accommodation in August, yet medical notes compliled by her doctor said she had no permanent place of residence.
Ms Cumberland-Quinn was assessed in September by a neurosurgeon who found she could only walk ‘using two crutches with great difficulty’ and was waiting for spinal surgery. Her notes also added that she had ‘no fixed abode’.
The former NHS nurse said she is still living in her car and ‘eating out of bins to survive’ – half a year after she first told her story
Despite her mounting ailments, the Ely resident said she has been continually lambasted by members of the public who label her a ‘benefit cheat’.
She also claims she has not been housed by East Cambridgeshire District Council (ECDC) housing officers.
Ms Cumberland-Quinn said she has ongoing legal disputes with the council but has not been able to get any legal aid since it was it was cut by the coalition government in 2012.
She said: ‘I haven’t got a clue any more, I am too scared to do anything.’
Homeless shelters are reluctant to accomodate her due to her dog and she is continually moved on by the council.
‘People all laughed in my face – when they went past when I parked up in Barton Road car park [in Ely]. The council told me to get out of there or they would give me a £150 fine,’ she added.
This comes despite East Cambridgeshire District Council boasting it had ‘stamped out homelessness’ in the area.
Cllr Mike Rouse, service delivery champion for the council said on Ms Cumberland-Quinn’s case: ‘We cannot provide information on individual cases, but we always ensure assistance is given to anyone who approaches the council with homelessness issues, whatever their circumstances.’
Ms Cumberland-Quinn who suffers from a condition called paresthesia, causing weakness affecting all four limbs