David and Christine moved to the Caribbean island of Saint Maarten 12 years ago, where they ran a successful business and enjoyed a comfortable life. But then Hurricane Irma hit, destroying their home and livelihood.
Having survived the trauma of the hurricane and its aftermath, David and Christine were evacuated to the UK. With no home and no access to any of their savings, they were forced to join the homeless register. The next few weeks proved to be extremely fraught, as they undertook the arduous and at times demoralising task of trying to access state support.
Emergency accommodation was provided but they were moved every few days; with no provision for food or transport, they began to run up significant debts on their credit card.
The process started to take its toll on them, both mentally and physically. David recalls that “It was a very stressful time. We were constantly on the move and not getting much sleep. The whole experience felt degrading and demeaning”.
It was David’s friend and a member of his Lodge in Cheshire, who suggested they contact the MCF. Following an initial enquiry, an emergency grant of £500 was quickly approved to help cover their immediate expenses.
Even though we were so stressed, the application process was easy and we were never made to feel bad about asking for help.
Finding a new home
The most pressing problem now was to find permanent accommodation, but being unemployed would make it almost impossible, so another grant was approved to cover the costs of a deposit and six months of rent.
With the help of family and neighbours, they are slowly rebuilding their lives and are hopeful for the future.
I didn’t expect to have to start again at my age – but it’s an adventure! We are so grateful for the help we have received; there are good people behind us and we hope to be in a position very soon where we can help ourselves.