Published: 00:01, 28 January 2016
A woman has spent seven months living in her car because she won't give up her beloved dogs.
Helen McQuilliams began sleeping rough after her landlord sold the home she was renting in Chatham seven months ago.
The 37-year-old, who grew up in Sittingbourne, was offered emergency council accommodation - on the condition that she gave up her two bull mastiffs Kai and Zac.
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But she refused to abandon the dogs, which she describes as her children, and was left with only her Ford Focus estate for shelter.
Mrs McQuilliams said: “I’ve been offered help by the council and charities, but to get rid of my dogs would break my heart - they’re the only thing I have left.
“I can understand why they say I should give them up, but they mean too much.”
VIDEO: Reporter Ben Kennedy visits homeless Helen in the car she lives in
The painter and decorator, whose husband is in prison, says she is estranged from most of her family.
She briefly stayed with a friend in Chatham last October, but was forced to leave after three-year-old Zac bit a child putting her back in car for the past four months.
The former Fulston Manor School pupil said: “I’m a responsible dog owner and took the dog out of that situation straight away and I’ve always kept them well away from others in the park.
“The dogs are going back to a trainer because of the attack.”
Mrs McQuilliams now lives in her vehicle on Raspberry Hill Lane between Iwade and Lower Halstow and relies on the kindness of an uncle and friend to survive.
“I get £140 a fortnight in benefits but that goes towards my car and feeding my dogs,” she said.
“I’d rather go hungry than let them starve.
“I would go out to work tomorrow if I had somewhere to live, but I can’t leave the dogs in the car while I’m doing that.”
Mrs McQuilliams has started her own crowdfunding campaign on JustGiving, in a bid to get enough money together so she can get a deposit on a flat.
However, only a fraction has been raised so far.
“I can barely sleep, its cold, damp and cramped,” she said of her living conditions.
“I don’t want people to feel sorry for me, I just want someone to give me a hand up.”
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