Families in crisis fear being locked up at Premier Inn Christmas after the chaos of Storm Arwen


Laura and Dave Venner are among the 240,000 affected homes in Northumberland by Storm Arwen. There are 18,000 homes still without power in the North East.

A family that was forced to leave their home in order to stay at a hotel following Storm Arwen cut power fears they won’t be there Christmas.

Dave Venner and Laura Venner both feel the storm. “like living in a disaster movie”And they are “in limbo”.

They are also struggling. Their two accessible hotel rooms don’t have the right amenities for their disabled children. Chronicle Live reports.

The home of the Northumberland couple is just one of the 240,000 in the country that have been affected by severe weather.

Wednesday morning saw around 18,000 North East households still without power.

Friday night at 11pm, the Venners went on power. Two days later, they moved from Medburn near Ponteland to Newcastle Airport’s Premier Inn.

Laura and Dave, who are both full-time carers for their children (three of whom are disabled) rely on medical equipment as well as refrigerated medications.

Laura insists that Oliver has a spacious room in which they share, but it is not sufficient for Oliver’s needs.

Laura stated: “Because Oliver has a brain injury and cerebral palsy, he can’t sleep in a normal bed. Instead, he has to be in a safe space.

“It is like a huge play pen with fabric sides and zips up.”

Since the family’s arrival on Sunday, Oliver has had to sleep in a baby’s travel cot.

Laura continued: “He is five years old, and the same size as a seven- to eight-year old. It’s not ideal.

“But he has to stay isolated to one area as he can’t put his hands out for safety and could injure himself at any point.”

Oliver has usually two caregivers in addition to his parents. But while the Venners live in the hotel, it is up to Laura and Dave to care for Oliver.

Laura stated: “There’s no safe bathing or space for hoisting equipment so we don’t want the carers to cause themselves injuries from lifting him.”

Storm Arwen also caused Laura and David to delay a trip to RVI for their oldest daughter, Abbie (8 years old), who has cysticfibrosis.

On Wednesday, she was admitted at the hospital for a stay of two weeks. The appointment was originally scheduled for Monday. It was normal for one of her parent to be there.

Laura stated: “We know Abbie will be looked after by the nurses but she’s used to having her parents by her side. It’s just a nightmare.”

The power outage has caused problems for the children’s medical equipment, medicine, and the Venners have also lost their Christmas dinner.

Laura stated: “We have three big freezers and we’ve lost all the food in them. Two in the kitchen and a big chest freezer in the garage – all of the food has perished. There’s about £1,000 worth, including our Christmas dinner.

“We are devastated and it is all gone. This storm has now completely taken over.”

And though Northern Powergrid have said that they will reimburse the Venners for their stay at the Premier Inn, including breakfast and evening meals, they have had to fork out £400 from Universal Credit and their carers’ allowance to secure the room.

On Wednesday morning, the latest update for Laura and Dave was that their power would be restored by 10pm on Thursday evening.

However, Laura thinks it could still be a while before the family get home. “We have been receiving updates from the beginning, but now we are stuck in limbo. Although I understand that there was a major power cut, and we aren’t the only ones experiencing this, it feels like there is no end in sight.”

“We could stay here for Christmas, but we don’t want to. We just want to get home.”

A Northern Powergrid spokeswoman confirmed that they were aware of the power cut affected homes in Medburn due to Storm Arwen.

“Unfortunately, we are not able to give an estimate of when power will be restored to Medburn customers at this time. However, I want to assure our customers that our teams are working hard to restore power as quickly as possible.” she said.

“We offer support to as many people as possible for those who are vulnerable and help them to find other accommodation when needed.