Homeless man worried about sleeping in his van

A Honiton man has been forced to live in his Ford Transit van after being made homeless.

A HONITON man feels he has been failed by the system and left with no choice but to live in his van after he was made homeless.

Daran Smith, 42, used to live in The Star Inn, but had to move out as a result of the pending sale of the property to J D Wetherspoon.

He left on April 23 and has been living in his Ford Transit van ever since.

“East Devon District Council has offered me no help and just referred me to SmartMove, but I have heard nothing from them,” said Mr Smith. “It is a poor system and I think it needs changing.”

He works as a relief driver, however, he cannot guarantee he will be working regular hours so is hoping to find a full-time position.

“I live, eat, sleep and go to work in my van,” he said. “I don’t have a quality of life any more,” he added.

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Mr Smith admits he feels especially vulnerable at night when he is sleeping in his van.

“I do feel vulnerable. I don’t have windows so I can’t see what is going on and people do break into work vans,” he said.

His living situation has also meant that he has drive to service stations in the area to have a shower and then find a safe place to park for the night.

“The stress of worrying about work and if I am going to get enough money to eat has affected my health. I have got to watch everything I spend,” Mr Smith said.

“I’m disgusted by the way I’ve been treated – I have worked all my life, since I left school, and they couldn’t even offer me any help.

“If I was an alcoholic or drug addict would they help?”

The former lorry driver told the Midweek Herald that his situation has also affected his relationship with his three children, who used to stay with him on the weekends.

“I have less quality time with them,” he added.

Mr Smith feels he cannot stay with family and does not want to be a burden on his friends.

“I can’t bid on properties, because of my circumstances, and I have not got enough money to rent anywhere.

“I am concerned that I will still be living in my van come the winter, unless I get offered some full-time work.”

A council spokesman said: “Had he approached us earlier, we could have advised him that he should be able to stay in his previous accommodation for longer.

“Unfortunately, he does not qualify for priority council housing. SmartMove will be considering his case in June.”