A woman forced to live in her car for four months because she wouldn’t give up her two dogs has finally found a home.
In February 57-year-old Hillary Barrows returned to Kent after teaching English in Europe for several years, but couldn't find work.
She was not eligible to receive benefits and was told by Canterbury City Council she had to give up her dogs Robbie and Cleo in order to be given emergency housing, leaving her with no option but to sleep in her car.
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Now she has been offered housing in a bungalow by an animal rescue kennel owner from Boughton-under-Blean near Faversham.
She said: “I’ve had a weekend of miracles. After the first article nobody responded. I was at rock bottom. There were so many obstacles in the way.
“But there have been an overwhelming response to the news reports. All the well wishers have been amazing. I’ve been blown away.
“It’s as if I’ve woken up one morning and been given a hundred million pounds. That’s the feeling. It’s not the monetary value it’s that sensation that your life changes in an instant.”
Ms Barrows's problems began four months ago when she returned to the UK.
She rented a room in Canterbury, but after she was unable to find work her money ran out.
But there were no places in local charities to look after her dogs, and she couldn’t afford the cost of keeping them in kennels.
Video: Hillary thanks everyone who has helped her (courtesy of SWNS)
So dog-lover Ms Barrows decided she couldn’t just abandon them and instead kept them with her to live in her red Alfa Romeo while she tried to get help.
At the time she said: “I feel like I want to scream. When you are homeless it is like being a social leper, being treated worse than a stray dog.
“At first I had to spend a weekend in my car with my two dogs. I was completely frozen with only some blankets.”
She spent a further four months in her car, receiving help from the Salvation Army in Canterbury and from the 24-hour McDonalds in Sturry, where a staff member helped her to use facilities at a nearby caravan park and gave money for dog food.
Ms Barrows said: “I was not able to afford that much. I realised I had to ask for help and face up to my situation. I was just so depressed that I needed any help people could give.”
Then last week her story went viral after it was revealed she was still living in a car park in the Sturry ASDA.
She set up a Go Fund Me website, which has seen thousands of concerned animal lovers donate more than £9,000 to help her.
She is now enjoying the chance to sleep in a comfortable bed, while her story continues to attract media attention.
She added: “For the moment I’m going to take it easy for a little while while I figure out what my next action should be. I’m just trying to de-stress after the last four months.”