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Helping a homeless old man...but aibu to stop helping?

(112 Posts)
lonelylou09 Fri 05-Mar-21 22:47:18

The old couple opposite me had a huge row and her son kicked the guy out. He's 72 and had no where to go so he's now spent over 2 weeks squatting in an abandoned camper van at the end of the street.
There's no water, no toilet, no electricity or heating. It's damp and mouldy and drafty.
He literally left with the clothes he was wearing at the time and 3 small dogs.
I found out after he had already been there a few days so I went to check on him. I've sorted him out food, blankets, dog food and water and been making him hot water bottles every night as it's freezing cold.
I got in touch with the council and our community councillors as well as various charities to get him as much help as I could.
I've bought him a phone so he can be contacted by the council and make calls. My boss donated him a camping stove and gas so he could cook the food he had been given. So we've also then given him pans and lights and other bits and bobs.
Council wanted to get him in to temporary accommodation straight away..he refused because they wouldn't allow dogs.
I understand that because I have dogs and I know he's got nothing friends or family.
But checked his phone for him today and he's got missed calls from the council so I called them back and they to my amazement offer him somewhere temporary that he can go with the 3 dogs. I'm over the moon thinking it's going to be minus 4 out there tonight!
He then turns the place down because it's near a main road in a nearby town. I offered to take him to have a look and I could hear the council lady explaining to him that his health and wellbeing is more important than the risk of the road to the dogs or being in an area he doesn't want to go but he's having non of it..
He'd rather stay in the van until something better comes up.
I spoke to the lady myself and she said if he turns an offer down again they will no longer class him as homeless.
He won't have it though and said everyone's helping me so I'll stay where I am for now.

I'm frustrated beyond belief. I've been helping him as he had no choice but now he's made the choice to stay there in those conditions..
Aibu to withdraw my day to day help?
I haven't called on him this evening to collect my hot water bottles to refill for him as I'm really annoyed about him doing that today..
But I feel so guilty.
Is it a case of you can only do so much or should I still continue to help?
I feel like him taking the help is enabling him to stay there but I feel terrible tonight thinking he will be cold and he might literally freeze to death.

OP’s posts: |
rawalpindithelabrador Fri 05-Mar-21 22:53:15

YANBU. Just be straight with him.

Merryoldgoat Fri 05-Mar-21 22:55:17

YANBU. No good deed goes unpunished.

lonelylou09 Fri 05-Mar-21 22:59:52

@rawalpindithelabrador I've tried telling him he can't stay there. We do have public toilets in the village but they are a half hour walk away and not open 24/7 so God only knows where he's been going toilet for a start

OP’s posts: |
BigHandsomeBeast Fri 05-Mar-21 23:07:19

You’ve done so much for him op and Shiism feel proud. Ultimately you can lead a horse to water but... he needs to wake up and accept the placement.

LaurieFairyCake Fri 05-Mar-21 23:09:49

What's the 'better' he's expecting?

lightand Fri 05-Mar-21 23:10:20

It has taken me years to realise that an adult has the right over their own life to choose what they want.
Sounds quite simple written down.

Nellythemouse Fri 05-Mar-21 23:13:54

My guess at his thinking is he’s attempting emotional blackmail of his wife/son by staying visible at the end of the road. If he moves into accommodation miles away he’s got much less chance of going back “home”. Just leave him to it.

rawalpindithelabrador Fri 05-Mar-21 23:19:57


*@rawalpindithelabrador* I've tried telling him he can't stay there. We do have public toilets in the village but they are a half hour walk away and not open 24/7 so God only knows where he's been going toilet for a start

Then that's all you can do. 'You can't stay here. The council is not going to offer you something better for the sake of your dogs. If you don't take this place, there's nothing more I can do for you. Best of luck.'

rawalpindithelabrador Fri 05-Mar-21 23:23:34

Why did the mother and son throw him out? There's often a good reason for this, sadly.

IsThisNews Fri 05-Mar-21 23:24:06

He's an adult. You've helped him, but you can't make his choices for him. Explain things to him one more time then leave him to it as you're just going to get more frustrated if he continues to make choices you don't agree with.

lydia2021 Fri 05-Mar-21 23:24:22

This reminds me of the Lady in the Van film by Alan Bennett. I feel you have done whatever you can and helped generously. Only social services can help him now. He might end up being moved by the police in the end. You cant be blamed in any way. Housing generally offer 3 places at the most, then they dont bother anymore. You have to leave him to his choices.

AmberItsACertainty Fri 05-Mar-21 23:40:43

I'd you want to push the issue you can report the abandoned camper van. It's only a matter of time before it's picked up on by the council and towed anyway, for having no tax.

He needs help to understand that what he's been offered is temporary accommodation.

And he's very very lucky to be offered anything other than a hostel or B&B where dogs aren't allowed. In my area there's only one offer of temporary accommodation made, turn it down and that's it - the council have no further duty to help you.

He can accept the temporary accommodation and still come sit in the camper van all day during the day/evening, eat there etc if he wants (until it's towed away). He doesn't have to stay cooped up in the temporary place for the duration of his stay. It's just somewhere to put his few possessions/food, sleep and get washed/toilet.

Charity, Freecycle or council grant will help him get furniture, which he can take to new place when he leaves or dispose of as he wishes.

He needs to understand that classed as homeless he'll get a permanent property sooner and he'll have choice in where that property is and what sort of property.

He could choose sheltered housing or ordinary housing. Ground floor with a garden or higher up if he prefers that, maybe with a small balcony. Property in a block with communal facilities like an extra lounge (as well as the personal lounge in his property). Or house converted into flats each with their own entrance. Or bungalow. Whatever is available. There's time for him to think about and choose what to 'bid' on each week (which means registering his interest in a property).

If he turns down the temporary accommodation he won't be classed as homeless and it will be years until he's offered a permanent property from the bidding list as he'll be classed as low priority.

He will be evicted from the camper van long before he gets a permanent property.
He needs to accept the temporary accommodation now because it's a choice between, in a few weeks, either that or living rough on the streets.

He's 72 the permanent property he's likely to get could be a really nice place in sheltered housing. With reasonable neighbors hopefully. A ground floor flat or bungalow with a bit of a garden for the dogs. But the way to get that, or whatever property he'd prefer, is to accept the temporary accommodation.

If he ends up living rough, he'll end up sick, he'll be hospitalised and they will end up putting him in an old people's home due to not being able to look after himself. Because choosing to live on the streets as a vulnerable, frail (he will be frail half starving on the streets, if he isn't already), elderly person isn't looking after yourself. The choice will be taken away from him, he'll be deemed to lack capacity to make his own welfare decisions. If that happens, it's bye bye dogs.

Can someone look after the dogs while someone else gets him to his GP (phone the GP first, so they're aware of the situation. They won't be able to discuss him because of confidentiality, but they can listen to what you say and book an emergency appointment for him). Old people often respect the opinion of people like doctors more, so if the doc tells him to take the temporary accommodation and spells out the consequences if he doesn't, it might work.

AmberItsACertainty Fri 05-Mar-21 23:43:37

I want to clarify I'm not saying you should do all I've posted above, only if you want to. He's being selfish saying he's not prepared to be proactive in helping himself and happy to rely on everyone else. So if you want to walk away then do.

Feelingconfused2020 Fri 05-Mar-21 23:48:56

Sometimes walking away is the best way to help.

MrsTulipTattsyrup Fri 05-Mar-21 23:49:23

Before I did any of this I’d have wanted to know why he was made to leave. It might have changed how I felt about helping if I felt they were right to do so.

Secondly, I think it’s highly likely he’s trying to guilt his family into taking him back, and can only do that by staying in these conditions, within view of the house. It could be a clever bit of emotional blackmail.

But now he’s turned down suitable accommodation, I think you have done all you can and should withdraw further help, and not feel guilty about it. If there’s one more thing you want to offer, it could be to take his dog in until he has permanent accommodation where he’s able to keep it, to make it easier to get off the street in the short term, but I’d be wary of managing his day to day welfare yourself for any longer.

MrsTulipTattsyrup Fri 05-Mar-21 23:52:01

Also, being 72 doesn’t make him too old to do this stuff for himself. Two of my public sector colleagues are still working in jobs needing significant travel and skills at the same age. He might be only too glad to let someone else take on the wife work for him, and indeed his apparent helplessness may have contributed to the breakdown of his marriage.

Emeraldshamrock Fri 05-Mar-21 23:55:25

You've done more than enough for him.

Cattenberg Sat 06-Mar-21 00:00:02

This reminds me of the Lady in the Van film by Alan Bennett.

Me too. And YANBU. But make sure he knows that you were only helping until the council found him accommodation. He might burn his bridges otherwise.

ProfYaffle Sat 06-Mar-21 00:03:32

Hmm. This reminds me of dh and I trying to help FIL (similarly aged) to find emergency housing. The circumstances were different but he was equally sure that 'something better' would come along and he had blind, absolute faith that he was somehow entitled to 'better' housing.

In the end he was in emergency b&b accommodation for about 6 months and that was the only point at which he accepted that a less than ideal bedsit was a preferable option.

I think you can only accept that there are limits to what you can do. Encourage him to accept reality and put your own boundaries in as to how far you can go in helping him.

PS - bear in mind that sometimes people don't have help from their families because they've done some truly bad stuff.

lonelylou09 Sat 06-Mar-21 00:05:27

@LaurieFairyCake he wants to stay local or at least rural rather than busy town

OP’s posts: |
lonelylou09 Sat 06-Mar-21 00:07:14

@Nellythemouse it's out of sight from the house and hasn't been towed away as it's in a parking place so I'm guessing it's SORN. It's been there about 2 years though and is a right state

OP’s posts: |
AlexaShutUp Sat 06-Mar-21 00:07:33

You sound lovely, OP, and very kind. But yanbu to stop helping. You have done what you can, and he chose to decline the property that was offered. He is an adult, and you are not responsible for his choices. In one way, helping him further could actually be damaging, as it would be facilitating his poor decisions.

It must be hard though - I'd struggle to switch off and not worry.

lonelylou09 Sat 06-Mar-21 00:12:20

@rawalpindithelabrador from what I can gather he was her carer although he drinks and she's always smoked weed. She went into hospital and discharged herself because she couldn't smoke there. Her son is a proper dodgy character and normally turns up now and then with a load of men in tow drinking and driving and making a load of noise. He's then moved in with her. She kicked off at the old guy and her son assaulted him and threw him out. A few days later she then kicked off at the son and kicked him out although he's now back. The whole family are mad as a box of frogs ..but I've heard from the son himself that he went too far and he's since tried to apologise as he can't cope with his mum either

OP’s posts: |
lonelylou09 Sat 06-Mar-21 00:19:27

@AmberItsACertainty the council are aware that it's an abandoned camper van thats been there for 2 years. Normally they would tow it but it's in a parking space for the flats at the end so it's been left.
I tried saying it was temporary only and he could just take it and come back to the van if he felt he couldn't settle there but he was adamant he would wait for something nearer and more suited for the dogs.
He's got 3 dogs so it's not even as if I can see if anyone can foster them for a while. I've already got 2 large dogs and wouldn't be able to take them on.
Our local doctors is horrendous for trying to get appointments let along for someone else.i once walked in there in tears saying I needed to speak to someone as I was suicidal and had tried to kill myself and needed help...I was turned away and told to go to A and E which is nearly 2 hours away on the bus. So I don't think I'd be able to get him an appointment and he wouldn't go

OP’s posts: |

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