Westbury woman's plea after depression reduces her to life in a tent
A former support worker from Westbury has been forced to sleep rough after becoming depressed when her patient suffered brain damage three years ago – a case which made national headlines.
Mercedes Creed, 49, and her five dogs, have been living out of two small tents and an old pram on common land for two weeks, just yards from her former home in Danvers Way.
And she is now pleading with Wiltshire Council to find her a permanent roof.
For 30 years she was a professional support worker, with her own home and a sports car, working for Allied Healthcare in Devizes.
That changed when an under-qualified nurse, Violetta Aylward, turned off Devizes plumber Jamie Merrett’s vent machine back in 2009, leaving him brain damaged.
Working as Mr Merrett’s support worker, she suffered post-traumatic shock as a result of the incident and was treated by her GP in Westbury, She has since been treated for depression, and believes her efforts to uncover those responsible for the tragedy cost her job.
“I was Jamie’s support worker and his last words before he slipped into a coma were my name. I was determined to get him justice, but those responsible got off and I stopped getting work,” she said.
“I was depressed and got put on medication, and it has just got worse and worse since.
“People think you have to be a crack addict or have a drink problem to end up homeless, but it happens to ordinary people and more quickly than you think.
“People who like living like this must be made of tougher stuff than me, yesterday I nearly froze to death.”
Ms Creed has lived in Westbury for 10 years, but since losing her job has had problems with private landlords.
She is now on Wiltshire Council’s housing list, but claims she may have to wait a long time for a home.
“I am on the housing list but the council can take up to two years,” she said.
“They have said I can’t stay here, but nothing about anywhere else I could go. I am not being separated from my dogs, they are my life.
“This is Britain for God’s sake, it is disgusting that people should have to live like this.
“All I want from life is somewhere I can live with my dogs and get my life back. I don’t care where or what it is like, I’m asking for a hand-up, not a hand-out.”
In the meantime she has been moved by the efforts of local residents to support her, providing food and useful equipment.
She said: “One man gave me his coat while he was walking his dog. They go shopping for me since I can’t leave my dogs, or bring out some of their dinner for me, and let me use their bathrooms. I have never come across such a sense of community before.”
A council spokesman said: “Wiltshire Council has been working with Miss Creed since becoming aware that she was at risk of losing her previous accommodation.
“We are actively pursuing a number of accommodation options with Miss Creed including privately rented and social properties.
“Unfortunately it can be difficult to locate a landlord willing to consider a tenant with pets, however we are committed to assisting Miss Creed.”