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Manchester's 'hidden homeless'

RELIEVED: Isaac Brobbey spent a month without anywhere to live (photo credit: Isaac Brobbey)

ISAAC BROBBEY was among the UK’s ‘hidden homeless’ and has spoken about his ordeal in the hope that anyone on the brink of homelessness might be encouraged to ask for help.

Brobbey, 50, is from Manchester and spent roughly four weeks in his car, which was parked in a supermarket car park at nights. The father of two grown-up children took to using toilets at takeaway restaurants and his place of work to mask the fact that he had no access to a bathroom during that time.

This experience of homelessness, like others, is unique in that Brobbey saw things ‘quickly spiral’ whilst he was working full-time at a van hire company. Speaking to local reporters, the Ancoats man said he has “no choice” but to leave his home amid financial problems and a split from his partner; whom he is now back together with:

"To cut a long story short I just didn't have anywhere to go…I had too much dignity to ask for help. Now I want to help others.

"I used to come into work every day and no one was aware of my situation. My family weren't aware and I didn't want to bother my kids.

"The worst thing was every time you leave work and listening to your colleagues going home to their wives and going out on the weekend - but you know you've got nothing. There was a lot of crying.”

The Manchester Evening News reported the death of another man living his vehicle, which prompted Brobbey to share his story and perhaps save another life in the process. The late David Roseblade who died when his van caught fire, probably as a result of smoking, according to police, was also looking for a new home, working by day and parked in a car park by night.

Roseblade was receiving help from the Wellspring charity who are part of a consortium including Emmaus and Big Change who together form the Manchester homeless charter. A spokesman from the Wellspring identified the phenomena of the ‘hidden homeless’ which describes those who are in work but struggling with finding and keeping a place to live.

Jonathan Billings, Wellspring’s Chief Executive told the BBC:

"I see homelessness in a totally different light now. There's a stigma attached and it's often difficult for people to ask for support…There's help out there, so ask for help."

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