Hampshire & Isle of Wight

Eastleigh MBE foster carers could be made 'homeless'

Mary and Eric Snook
Image caption Mary and Eric Snook fostered more than 100 children

A retired Hampshire couple who were awarded MBEs for fostering more than 100 children over four decades have said they are facing homelessness.

Eric and Mary Snook, 75 and 74, from Eastleigh can no longer afford mortgage payments so have sold their home.

They signed up to the council housing register ten years ago but said no property had been secured for them.

Eastleigh Borough Council said they were not a high priority as they were currently still living in their home.

The Snooks are due to move out in the next two weeks and council spokesman Steve Collins said the their priority status would increase once they were in private rented accommodation, which the council would help them to find.

'Heart-breaking'

Mr and Mrs Snook, who have three children of their own, have spent 43 years fostering children and were given MBEs in the New Year's Honours List two years ago.

But after retiring last year the pensioners said they could no longer afford to stay in their current home, nor rent long-term or buy.

Mr Snook, who has prostate cancer, said it was "always the plan" to retire to council accommodation and signed up for the housing waiting list ten years ago.

But the council's housing support panel reviewed their case and concluded the couple were not high priority.

Mr Snook said he felt "absolutely let down" because he had dedicated most of his life to his community as a foster carer.

"Now we need a little help and the council won't give us anything," he said.

'Affordable housing'

One of their foster children, Suzanne Snook, said the situation was "heart-breaking".

"They took me into their home when I was 10-months-old and adopted me when I was 12," she said.

"Without them, where would I be now?"

She has put petitions out across Eastleigh calling for the council to make the Snooks a priority, and has set up a Facebook campaign that has attracted more than 200 supporters.

Mr Collins said the council had "every sympathy", but that it had nearly 6,000 people on its housing register.

He added: "This case helps to further underline the need for more affordable housing in the borough."

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