Manchester

'Desperate' Manchester dad tells of ordeal living in car

Isaac Brobbey Image copyright Isaac Brobbey
Image caption Isaac Brobbey eventually managed to rent a bedsit and was later reconciled with his partner

A man who was forced to live in his car after a relationship breakdown has talked of continuing to work full-time.

Isaac Brobbey used an Asda car park in Greater Manchester as a base for a month and a McDonald's to wash in.

The father-of-two, who managed to hold down his job at a truck rental firm, said his kind of experience shows how homelessness is often misunderstood.

He spoke out after the Manchester Evening News revealed a man who died in a van fire was living in the vehicle.

Homelessness charity The Wellspring, in Stockport, said the man worked in the building industry and had been in the process of trying to find a home.

Mr Brobbey, 50, said: "I had too much dignity to ask for help. Now I want to help others."

Originally from Ancoats, Manchester, he said a break-up in 2012 left him with "no choice" but to leave his home, and financial problems made matters worse.

Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Mr Brobbey continued to travel to work, despite having no home

"To cut a long story short I just didn't have anywhere to go," he said.

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"I drove around for a good few hours trying to make some sense of it, and then just suddenly realised I would have to sleep in the car. Reality hit me.

"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."

'Hidden homeless'

Jonathan Billings, chief executive of the Wellspring charity, said he has seen "dozens and dozens" of similar cases of people continuing to work after losing their homes.

He said they represent a "hidden homeless" population, and the issue is challenging conventional perceptions of homelessness.

"There's a stigma attached and it's often difficult for people to ask for support," he said.

Mr Brobbey, who eventually found a bedsit to rent and still works in the same job, continued: "I would wash in work, or in McDonald's. And having nowhere to cook meant I was just eating fast food all the time.

"I didn't see myself as homeless and I didn't want my family to feel their brother or son was homeless."

Mr Brobbey, who spent Christmas handing out food to the homeless, said he wanted to urge anyone in similar circumstances to not "suffer in silence".

"I see homelessness in a totally different light now. I can see how easy it is to spiral," he said.

"There's help out there, so ask for help."

Isaac Brobbey will tell his story as part of BBC Radio Manchester's Over To You project, which has seen volunteers helping to produce the station's output.

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