A woman says she was evicted from her home while in a coma and came out of intensive care to find all of her possessions had gone.
Juliet Iswan, 43, was in Bristol Royal Infirmary Hospital last February after suffering from a stroke that took her into a coma. She remained in the ICU for ten months until January 2024 and is now staying in social housing with nothing but a hospital bed and hospital gowns.
Before being rushed into hospital, Juliet had a home at the emergency housing accommodation Connolly & Callaghan, in Bristol - where she had been living for eight years.
While in a coma for five weeks, she said all of her belongings - including £300 in cash, her passport, irreplaceable family jewellery as well as other possessions - were either sold or disposed of.
Juliet, who was born with sickle cell disease which can cause a stroke, said neither the council nor Connolly & Callaghan were taking responsibility for her stuff.
Connolly & Callaghan said it had acted "in line with our contractual obligations” which required it to store belongings for seven days. It also denied any belongings had been auctioned and said it did not have a “complaint on file regarding this matter”.
A spokesperson for Bristol City Council said the housing provider, not the council, is responsible for a tenant's possessions.
'I have nothing'
Juliet said she had been living in a one-bedroom flat in Stokes Croft for over six years and the agents knew that whenever she was not in her home, she would be in hospital. She said: "I was told when I came out of a coma that I had been evicted from my home and all my things were gone.
"The most important things I cannot even put a monetary value on - necklaces, earrings, every gift I ever got from my parents was in that box - my Mum, my Grandma - and it's all apparently gone.
"I've lost all my clothes, shoes still in boxes - I loved to walk everyday come rain come shine, I would walk but now I have nothing.
"I don't even know where my passport is. I'm now in a cold house with just a hospital bed and that is it - how can you discharge someone to this life?"
Juliet, who was born in Uganda, has been living in Bristol since 2005 but after suffering a severe stroke in 2009 she became physically disabled and had to have multiple hip replacements.
Juliet was informed she or a family member could collect some of her 'important' items, but upon collection, she said her friend was only handed her medication and an empty jewellery box. She said she was also told a homeless officer had spoken with her agents, saying she was about to be discharged and had been provided with a one-bedroom council flat - so they wanted to collect her things.
A spokesperson for Connolly & Callaghan said: "In order to dispose of belongings, we must receive a TORT letter from the statutory agency and a copy is sent to the resident by the statutory agency, then and only then are belongings disposed of.
"There were a couple of enquiries about Juliet's belongings this week, however, the initial response from my colleague was that we generally wouldn't keep belongings for more than 7 days, so if Juliet was discharged 8 months ago (as the enquirer had stated) it's unlikely we still have them.
They added: "We do empathise with the residents booked into our accommodation and will always try and accommodate where we can. It's really disappointing that the account below is inaccurate and portraying our colleagues as if they do not care about those in our accommodation. This is not true."
Juliet's friend has set up a fundraiser to assist her.
Landlords 'failing to consider' vulnerabilities
A new report calling for a Royal Commission says grief and financial distress must be considered among factors that can make a social housing resident vulnerable. The Housing Ombudsman Service said it has seen evidence of landlords failing to consider such vulnerabilities.
In its latest report focused on attitudes, rights and respect, the ombudsman said it had assessed what it means to be vulnerable in social housing in 2024 and how social landlords can better respond to the needs of those residents.
It has called for a new Royal Commission – a type of committee appointed for a specific investigatory or advisory purpose – for housing, which it said could be “transformative” because such a probe would be independent of Government and “not impeded by politics”.
The report – made up of more than 1,663 public responses from a call for evidence and hundreds of ombudsman cases – said that, while vulnerability is defined under the Care Act, not everyone who is vulnerable will meet this legal definition.