Fire leaves family out in the cold

WHEN her Coramba home burnt down in August, Donna Alderman didn't think it could get any worse for her and her four boys.

"We lost everything in the fire but now I feel like I'm losing my mind," Donna said.

With the damage bill from the fire more than $300,000, and the clean-up and construction expected to take months, Donna hit the streets in search of a place for her family to call home.

But for the past month and a half, Donna and her four boys, aged from 11 years old to just 16 months, have been moving from one side of the Coffs Coast to the other as the tight rental market leaves them out in the cold.

The family have had to move four times since August, and now that their current accommodation will revert to holiday letting in November, they have to move yet again.

"When you say you're a mum with four kids, it makes it hard," Donna said.

"Real estate agents don't want to know you, they never call you back, and DoCS is a dead end surely potential homelessness constitutes putting a child at risk?"

What makes it harder for Donna is that two of her children are anaphylactic and she has to be careful where they live to stop her boys having serious allergic reactions to such things as mould and old carpet.

But working in her favour has been the tremendous community spirit she's encountered while her family struggles to get back on its feet.

"Family and friends are the only reason we've been able to get through to this point," Donna said.

"Our eldest boy has only been at Karangi School for a year and the support has been incredible.

"People I hardly know have given the boys clothes and toys, and the Salvos have been awesome as well."

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