Mum sleeping rough after becoming victim to home 'arson'

Wendy Fokes. (Image: Mark Fear)
Wendy Fokes. (Image: Mark Fear)

A mum whose home was damaged by a 'deliberate' fire has said she has been forced to sleep rough and sofa surf.

Wendy Fokes, who is 55, was renting a flat above the Progressive Club, in Alexandra Terrace, Stanton Hill.

Lee Haywood out side the burnt pub.

Lee Haywood out side the burnt pub.

The was a pub run by her son Lee Haywood, 26, who also lived in the property.

But since a fire broke out on the morning of Saturday, October 7 Wendy has said she has been left without a permanent home since.

While Lee has moved in with a friend who lives in Lime Street, Sutton, Wendy who was a part-time cleaner, has said she has been left with nothing but a carrier bag full of clothes.

She said she is sometimes sleeping rough in Sutton and no longer works.

While she is able to shower and sometimes sleep at relatives' homes, she has spent up to six nights in a row sleeping rough.

Wendy, who did not have housing or content insurance before the fire, said: "I have got a change of clothes and a few lots of paperwork and that's it. All my things got smoke damaged.

"I remember smelling the smoke. I still have flashbacks, it's not very nice."

Wendy who lived at the property for around 20 months, has been given a sleeping bag but said that sleeping rough is 'very difficult.'

She said: "I walk around a lot to keep warm then there's a place to go in the morning. They give you a hot meal and a hot drink.

"In the New Year I want to get back into work and get my life back [on track]."

Ashfield District Council said said it has "provided the relevant advice to Ms Fokes regarding her current situation", and will continue to "provide advice and support as appropriate".

Wendy's nephew Nick Chamberlain, 29, from Marham Close, Sneinton, put her up temporarily but did not have the room to house her any longer as his brother Liam, 21, and young son also live at the property.

Nick, a recruitment manager, has set up an online fundraising page on Monday, November 13, to raise money to pay for a deposit and a month's rent so Wendy can move into a flat.

He hopes to raise £750 and £105 has already been donated in 24 hours.

He said: "The only thing she's got is a her birth certificate. We've found two landlords who are willing to rent her a property with just a birth certificate until she can sort out housing benefit.

"The £750 will cover the deposit and first month's rent. All together it means she will she will be available to move in and have a room over her head."

He has also said that Wendy has lost sentimental family photos.

He said: "A lot of it's sentimental possessions - that's really hurt her. She's lost brothers and sisters to cancer.

"She's not bothered about the bed or the sofa, it's losing the photos that's ripped her heart out."

Nottinghamshire Police confirmed David Thacker, 55, of Alexandra Terrace, has pleaded guilty to arson following the fire at the pub and is due to be sentenced next month.

A police spokesman said: "We were called at around 9.30am on October 7 to a report of a fire in Alexandra Terrace, Sutton-in-Ashfield.

"David Thacker, 55, of Alexandra Terrace, was charged with arson with intent to endanger life on October 9.

"He pleaded guilty when he appeared at Nottingham Crown Court on November 6. He has been remanded in custody and is due to be sentenced on December 18."

A spokesman for the Tadcaster Pub Company, which owns the pub, said: "The Progressive Club at Stanton Hill suffered fire damage at the beginning of October when part of the roof burned down.

"The tenant has left the site and the property owners are now undertaking repairs to the area damaged by the fire with a view to reopening the club at the earliest opportunity."

Nottinghamshire Fire and Rescue confirmed it had attended the pub fire.

A spokesman said: "The call came in at 9.31am on October 7 to reports of a fire at a pub in Alexandra Terrace, Sutton-In-Ashfield.

"Upon arrival crews from Ashfield found that the fire had started in a converted attic room but had spread through three floors and the basement.

"Two hose reels were used to put out the fire. A thermal imaging camera and a nine-metre ladder were also used.

"Four people were evacuated from the building but no one was injured and crews had left the scene by 11.49am.

"We are treating the cause of fire as deliberate."

Thank you Nottingham Post