Maria, 51, leaves life on the streets for a new home in Downham Market

Maria McGregor in her new home
Maria McGregor in her new home

After more than a year of living on the streets around Downham, a 51-year-old woman is now looking forward to spending Christmas in her own home.

Maria McGregor had been facing the bleak prospect of a second winter sleeping in bus shelters and wandering miles around the town just to keep warm.

Now she is looking forward to happier and healthier 2016 after finally being able to rent a home in Downham with help from friends.

Since moving into the London Road home, Miss McGregor has been applying for jobs and is looking forward to spending Christmas Day with friends.

This is a far cry from last year’s festivities which she spent walking around the town apart from a solitary pub lunch.

Miss McGregor said: “It is great to be living in a house. It’s so much better than being on the streets. I get on well with my neighbours and have already had Christmas cards.

“When I was out in the cold and living rough, I really did worry but I knew I just had to get on with it.

“I feel sorry for the ones who are still out there.”

Miss McGregor suffers from suffers from asthma and mental health issues, has a spinal implant to help her bladder.

She was forced to live rough for more than a year after losing her job and her home.

Miss McGregor had shown great resilience in keeping herself clean and fed but was forced to trudge around the town with her rucksack and sleeping bag.

Her usual spots to sleep had been under a bush on the A10, behind the back of Downham Town Hall or within a barn.

Luckily last month, Miss McGregor had learned the house, which is being rented on a six-month lease, and was able to rent it after a friend agreed to act as a guarantor. She has also been given a loan and grant from West Norfolk Council.

Miss McGregor, who is still having counselling for her depression, said: “I would like to thank all the people who have helped me.

“People have kind giving me furniture. I like to keep the place looking nice.

“I hope next year is going to be a good year. I never want to go through being homeless again.”