The homeless newlyweds who have lived in their car for a year

Paul and Ingrid Stannard have spent the first year of their marriage living in their Ford Focus in S

Paul and Ingrid Stannard have spent the first few months of married life living in their Ford Focus - Credit: Brittany Woodman

A couple who say they have been living in their car for a year look set to finally be rehomed.

Paul and Ingrid Stannard say they first moved into their Ford Focus early in 2020 after their rented flat was sold and - apart from the odd spell sofa surfing with friends - have been living in the vehicle ever since.

Despite their circumstances, the couple decided to get married at King's Lynn Register Office in September and were able to spend their wedding night in a hotel room paid for by a relative. But they returned to the Focus the following evening.

Mr Stannard, 53, and his 32-year-old wife say they usually spend the night in supermarket car parks in and around Lynn. 

Before bedding down for the night, they have to drive around the town - with petrol paid for from their £500-a-month Universal Credit - to keep the heating operational in the 20-year-old Focus and to warm the vehicle up.

They then snuggle up under sleeping bags on the car's front seats.

They say they have encountered few problems and that people tend to leave them alone - but that they have to get up early to avoid the attention of parking wardens.

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At night they have only the car radio for company for short spells, before they have to turn it off to conserve the car's battery. 

The unemployed couple, who come from the Lynn area, say when they turned to West Norfolk council for help, it told them they were not a priority.

Paul and Ingrid Stannard have spent the first year of their marriage living in their Ford Focus in S

Paul and Ingrid Stannard decided to tie the knot despite being homeless - Credit: Supplied by the Stannard Family

When approached by the EDP about the couple's case, the council said: “We make assessments of need based on government legislation and the information people provide when they ask us for help. Following that assessment, if applicants have further information that they wish to provide in regard to their situation, they should contact us."

Mr and Mrs Stannard believe their health problems were not taken into account during the process.

Both suffer from anxiety and depression, which have been made worse by being homeless.

Paul and Ingrid Stannard have spent the first year of their marriage living in their Ford Focus in S

Paul and Ingrid Stannard say their health problems have not being taken into account - Credit: Brittany Woodman

"I've got mental health problems, my wife's got mental health problems," said Mr Stannard. "We support each other and get by as best we can."

The couple have been supported by Lynn-based homeless charity the Purfleet Trust, which has provided meals, laundry and hot showers.

"All we've got from the council is getting fobbed off," said Mrs Stannard. "When they do phone, they say we're not a priority.

"They need to do something. I don't know how much more I can take of this, every night we're getting  three or four hours' sleep, we're on edge because we don't know who's around.

Paul and Ingrid Stannard have spent the first year of their marriage living in their Ford Focus in S

Ingrid Stannard has now received a call to say she and her husband will be found a B&B until accommodation can be found for them - Credit: Brittany Woodman

"I was in hospital for an operation in October, being like this isn't helping my recovery."

At night, they try to park within view of council-run CCTV cameras, not only for security but to show officials that their situation is genuine.

But as they prepared to bed down in the car park at Sainsbury's in the Vancouver Quarter on Wednesday afternoon, Mrs Stannard's mobile rang.

A council housing officer was on the phone as the couple were being interviewed by the media, with news their luck had changed.

"They will be sorting out a  B&B temporarily," said Mrs Stannard. "We don't know where that will be yet, we're waiting for a phone call back.

"Then they're going to be putting us in touch with Shelter, which is a homeless charity, to put us in temporary accommodation until we can get back on our feet and get a proper home for ourselves as a happy or semi-happy married couple."

Mr Stannard said: "I feel happy now because they're now doing something about it."

His wife added: "It's about time because with our anxiety, our depression, it's all gone through the roof." 

Mr Stannard said they were made homeless after his rented flat on the Fairstead Estate was sold and he was evicted from the property around a year ago.

The couple had known each other for around seven years before deciding to marry despite being down on their luck.

"You think when you get married, things are going to get better for you," said Mrs Stannard.

"I don't care where they put us as long as we're together," her husband said.