While I’m writing this around a quarter of the world’s population is in lock down, including us, van lifers. Never in our wildest dreams did we see this coming, in fact, I don’t think anyone did. No matter how many zombie films we’ve watched, we simply aren’t prepared. We are now living in a world where tinned tomatoes and toilet paper are luxuries that are hard to come by. Sometimes, you can’t help but laugh. In all seriousness though, it has turned everything around for us. Van life for us was our home and our safety net, but now, that is all up in the air.
Van lifers and the corona virus just seem to be two things that don’t blend well together. When the virus first broke out on the other side of the world and even as it creeped closer to us in the UK, we weren’t too worried. When we were told to stay at home if you can, we were home, it could just move from time to time. But then we were laid off from work, along with so many others. A few days later, the UK went into complete lock down. And wow did things change fast.
Safety of Van Lifers:
Remember when you watch these ‘end of the world’ movies and people suddenly go from helping one another to every man (or women) for themselves? Well that kind of happened towards people like us. Van lifers.
Suddenly posts and comments started posting up all over the place from other van lifers about their safety. People living in vans were being targeted because locals thought they were tourists. So many people were told to ‘go home’ and even threatened. The worst one we heard was a local throwing stones through someone’s window. It was just mental. And for the first time, myself and Callum were scared and little stressed.
Although we knew we were safe where we were. We couldn’t guarantee it would continue that way. With the police having new powers to move campers/travellers/etc a long, it was only a matter of time before we were moved. And having that stress everyday wasn’t worth it.
From Van Lifers to Finding a Home:
Van life is our home. Hugo the van is where we go to ‘go home’. For a lot of people in the UK and around the world, there is no other option. We were included in this. Sadly, our parents couldn’t have us for many reasons but mainly, high risk. The last thing either of us wanted was to put anyone at risk. So, when we made the decision to find somewhere safe, we reached out to our local community. And they were amazing.
We have been living van life since June of 2019 and for the most part, we have lived in a tiny village in Wales. So, a lot of the locals know who we are, especially now we have Kali too. Hopping on the Facebook group for the local area we appealed for help and within hours had so many responses. My Mum and Sister also sent a request out and I just need to say. If you want to believe in community spirit, ask for help at times like these. People are amazing.
Trying every option under the sun it was getting hard; the government had closed the campsites, no one wanted to accept us for fear of getting into trouble. So we called the council for help in North Wales and where the van is registered, North Yorkshire. While the people we spoke to were so nice, they didn’t have much answers for us. Other than declaring in their books we are officially homeless. Which is very weird to be told! For days we were scouring the internet for information, reading horror stories and getting nowhere with endless amounts of phone calls. It was awful to be honest. We were both so stressed and worried, as we our friends and family for us.
Thankfully from the facebook requests, we got SO many responses. Ideally, we wanted to stay in North Wales rather than head all the way back up to Scotland. Thanks to the Facebook post we put out, someone local was able to help us. There was a little bit of back and forth but after a few days and us exhausting almost every other option, we got good news. We got the house!
Our New Home:
Coronavirus and van lifers are a hard pair. For some people they have no other option but to find a hidden spot or driveway and stay where they are. We are lucky enough to have found a cute little house. This gives us more space, time to create, space for Kali to play and a kitchen to bake in. But more importantly, hot shower and toilet. Things we don’t have living in a van. We already miss waking up in Hugo the van and its only day one. But we both feel so much more safe and secure.
Out little home is perfect for us and we are making it cosy, check out the video below for a house tour. Our isolation home is bigger than the van for sure and located in a beautiful place. When this all ends, we won’t forget the kindness of everyone that helped and reached out to us. And we will never take for granted the freedom we had before.
Tips for Van Lifers during COVID-19 & Where to reach out for help:
- Join the local community Facebook groups where you are. Let them know you’re there or ask for help. Like us, you might find just what you need from the kindness of strangers.
- Put a request for help on this interactive google map another Van Lifer has set up. You may be offered anything from a campsite to a driveway to stay.
- Call farmers in your local area. Getting workers now is hard, especially as most of them came from abroad. In exchange for a little work they let you stay on their land and use facilities.
- Don’t travel somewhere new because you were moved from where you’ve been staying.
- Be respectful to the Police and the locals. Remember everyone is scared, everyone is worried and the police are just doing their job.
- Ask for help from friends or families. It can be embarrassing, but you never know where help will come from.
- Call your local council where you’ve been staying AND the one your van/GP/etc is registered to. They have to help you, there is a lot of advice on the Shelter website. If they do not, call legal advice as you have a right to help and a permanent place to live at this time.
- Call local campsites, some may still allow you to stay but don’t take it personally if they can’t accept you right now.
For those van lifers still struggling, reach out. It can feel like a lonely time but trust me, there are so many people in your situation and that can feel so comforting! Any van lifers who need advice in the UK, contact us, we are here for you guys!