Sleeping in Your Car: a Last Resort

It seems impossible that in a country like the UK we have a growing population of people who have no permanent place to live.

Homelessness is a complicated matter with people often becoming homeless when their housing and financial circumstances fall into crisis. Physical and/ or mental illness, addiction and other strains of life are all issues that can contribute to the problem. In addition, many homeless women and children have experienced domestic violence.

I was shocked recently when a friend confided that he was hoping to replace his car with a small van because he was concerned that he would not be able to continue to pay his rent and maintain his home as the cost of living rose.

Another friend has been renovating a van to live in while serving out her eviction notice from her home which is being sold by her landlady and she hasn’t been able to find anywhere else to live that she can afford.

This made me think and I set out to see what advice there is out there for such circumstances.

It is my sincere hope that neither you nor anyone you know ever needs this information.

So if it’s a question of the street or your car, the car, if not exactly luxurious, is likely to be safer and more comfortable. At least you could be out of the elements and despite the current drought (August 2022), you know how cold and wet it can get in our beautiful Pembrokeshire.

A car is a basic roof over your head, offering not just a dry place to sleep but also somewhere to have a basic meal. In a small space it is most important to get organised, so getting rid of clutter is a must, keeping only what is essential, so you have as much space to sleep in as possible.

Anyone who has slept in the front seat of a car knows how painful a cricked neck can be, so advice is to put down the back seats, flattening them as much as possible. Cardboard can be a good leveller and offers some insulation. Cushions, if you can get them will also help make you more comfortable. Local charities may be able to provide you with essentials like a sleeping bag and other items to keep you snug until you can find somewhere more suitable.

Another tip is to use whatever you have to give yourself some privacy when you want to sleep by hanging curtains on the inside of the car. Do this by attaching old clothes or fabric to the inside mirror, door handles etc. Obviously take the makeshift curtains down each day

Contact Homeless Pembrokeshire for advice on where you might shower. Getting too unkempt and possibly smelly is going to drastically affect your ability to move on into a more suitable living space and will only serve to isolate you more, and make sure you keep bottles of water which you can fill from public bathrooms, to ensure you get enough to drink.

Remember, if you have to have a pee or ‘the other thing’, it is illegal to do so if anyone is offended. You can be fined and even imprisoned if someone is upset enough at the sight of your naked magnificence, doing what the bear does in the woods. Sorry, but that’s the law.

Another tricky bit is where do you put the car each night to ensure not only your own safety, but also to minimise attracting the law. It’s not legal to park just anywhere and you really must be careful not to accrue parking fines… an expense I have no doubt you would wish to avoid. No one said this was ideal but if it’s all that is open to you, don’t use the same parking spot each night to avoid drawing attention to yourself.

There are a number of charities, both national and local, that will endeavour to offer advice, support and signposting, not to mention emergency equipment. We advise you to contact Homeless Pembrokeshire which is based in Haverfordwest and does such good work with people in crisis.

Amanda Evans says of the charity:

“We aim to raise awareness of homelessness and to help those who become homeless with either individual items or a full emergency pack here in Pembrokeshire. We can also signpost venues providing meals, washing facilities, laundry plus other organisations that may be able to assist you. We are unable to recommend areas to pitch a tent for the reason being wild camping in England and Wales is not currently permitted. The CRoW (Countryside and Rights of Way) Act 2000 forbids camping unless you have the express permission of the landowner. We are registered with the Wales Council for Voluntary Action (WCVA). In addition to homelessness, we will also serve those in need where we can with emergency food parcels and fuel payment and our Baby Bank. Homeless Pembrokeshire is a registered charity which provides an outreach service. Please contact Amanda C Evans directly if you are in need of assistance by phone (07833 096872), Facebook Messenger or these websites:

Kitty Parsons

Kitty has forgotten how long she has been here now but she loves Pembrokeshire for its beauty and it's people. She spends her time searching out stories for, swimming in the sea , drawing and painting as Snorkelfish and eating cake. She says " has been an opportunity to celebrate this beautiful county and its people. Keep the stories coming. We love to hear from you."

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