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‘I’m seeing an industry disappear’: how lockdown is leaving hospitality workers homeless

When chef Sam Pinnock lost his job in late February, he offered to help around his landlady’s house in exchange for a rent discount. But tensions rose and the relationship broke down. “I was trapped, shouting at my friends on the phone, but no one could help me out,” says 26-year-old Pinnock. He’d often go and sit in a field for hours.

By June, the situation was impossible. Pinnock was waiting for a self-employed grant from the government when he was asked to leave. (As a lodger, he was classified as an excluded occupier, making him exempt from the eviction ban.) He went to his parents’ place in London. They both have health issues and Pinnock didn’t want to expose them to the virus, so for the next month, he slept in a shed in their garden, creeping into the house only when they were out to shower and use the toilet. “You can’t live in a shed,” he says. “It was fun for the first week but the novelty wore off.”

In the shed, Pinnock spent his time emailing people for assistance. “Every single charity organisation you can think of,” he says, “I messaged them for help.” A young, single, healthy man is bottom of the list for social housing, and so Pinnock remained in his parent’s shed, unemployed, homeless, with debts mounting. “When you don’t have a secure home it has such an effect on you,” he says. “But you can’t sit there feeling sorry for yourself. It doesn’t work.”

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