A NURSE has told how she cried through Christmas after being forced to live in a car with her dogs and brush her teeth in supermarket loos.
Fed up Nikki Campbell, 42, spent the entire festive season alone with her two pooches after council bosses palmed her off.
The dedicated theatre recovery nurse resorted to washing herself in public toilets after being made homeless in late December.
She described her ordeal as "the hardest time of her life" after having to camp out in a borrowed car beside the beach at Wallasey, Wirral.
Nikki had been staying at her sister's home in Wallasey since July 2020, but had to leave when their relationship broke down.
The 42-year-old, who works at the Royal Liverpool Hospital, had previously been renting a nearby home but was sent packing when her landlord wanted to sell up.
She explained: "Liverpool council staff just referred me to Wirral and the council staff there told me I had links with Liverpool, because I worked at the hospital.
"It was December 24th when I called Wirral housing options and they said I was from Liverpool, so it was Liverpool Council that needed to deal with it."
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Nikki says she was shoved between the two councils who both insisted it wasn't their responsibility, leaving her homeless while thousands of Brits celebrated Christmas.
"I didn't really sleep, it's just so stressful. You can't relax due to the uncertainty.
"On Christmas Day I just cried," the NHS nurse said. "It was the most miserable day ever to be honest.
"Even though I tried to busy myself, I took the dogs on a marathon walk and tried to keep my mind on something else, but it was so hard to do that.
"'I simply didn't want to bother anyone and I didn't tell my friends until that night, so they could all enjoy Christmas without worrying about my situation.
She tried to gain help again on December 28, but was told by Liverpool council staff she "was not a priority" and that Wirral council should be stepping in.
"The whole thing has been a battle and people fobbing me off from one place to another.
"I wasn't being fussy and I didn't care where I went, I wasn't bothered I just wanted a roof over my head."
Despite feeling "very lucky" she had loaned her cousin's car to sleep which at least had a heater, Nikki was left desperately seeking help for days.
On Christmas Day I just cried. It was the most miserable day ever to be honest.
The 42-year-old continued: "It's more about the dogs than anything.
"I just feel so bad for them, I think if I didn't have anything else to worry about apart from myself it wouldn't be quite as bad.
"But they have both kept me going, as I have to look after them."
Nikki claims she spoke with officials from both councils and was visited by outreach workers from Liverpool, but says no offer of emergency housing was made.
She managed to secure two nights in a room at the Ibis Hotel in Liverpool after getting in touch with a homeless charity, before being back on the streets.
Nikki said of the council's lack of help: "I appreciate Christmas can be a stressful time for everyone, but if your job is to help people in desperate times then you need to do it and not pass them on."
But she praised the Liverpool Paper Cup Project for their "great work" helping those in need, as well as applauding her colleagues at the hospital.
"My manager at work has been in touch with human resources and they are going to try and assist with accommodation and Wirral council have now found me a spot for two nights in a YMCA for homeless people in Birkenhead," the nurse added.
But it seems she may heartbreakingly have to give up her two dogs until she finds a permanent home.
"I am probably going to have to get the dogs fostered for a while until I get back on my feet, but I have a job and want to get back to work – I had the Christmas period off, but now am keen to return.
"I can't go and work a 12-hour shift in the hospital and leave my dogs in the car.
"I know I am lucky with a job I love, so I wanted to highlight what happened, so people maybe do their jobs better when someone else turns up needing help.
Wirral Council said that when they were contacted by Nikki on Christmas Eve, they had directed her to their Outreach Team Team to "assist further with accommodation" but said that the offer was "not taken up".
Yet Nikki is adamant that she was told Wirral Council could not help her and in fact closed her case.
She called a crisis line on December 29 as her mental health plummeted, who alerted Merseyside Police for her to gain help.
Wirral Council said in a statement: "Wirral Council Housing Options team was approached on December 24 regarding help with housing.
"Wirral Council will always offer support and advice for those people who are sleeping rough or at risk of sleeping rough.
"As such this individual was provided with the Outreach Team contact who could assist her further with accommodation if she had nowhere else to go. It is understood this offer was not taken up.
"Subsequent contact has been made and further assistance offered, however, it is understood this person has chosen to seek accommodation outside of the borough, although the option remains for her to take up relevant support if needed in Wirral."
- Find out more about the Liverpool Papercup Project here
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