Thousands of people have backed a petition after an elderly South Tyneside couple who have spent everyday together since 1946 are being forced to live apart.
Jessie and Ray Lorrison from South Shields must now live separately after their family claims South Tyneside Council stopped them from moving into the same care home.
Mr Lorrison, 95, is living at Westoe Grange Care Home, while his 88-year-old wife is in hospital after being told she does not meet the criteria to join him.
Grandson Lee Bates has launched an online petition - which has so far attracted 8,370 signatures - in a bid to get the council to change its mind.
In an email he sent to the Gazette, he wrote: "My grandfather sits and waits for her everyday - confused, anxious and lonely without the woman who has been by his side for 70 yrs. He has told my mother, who until recently was their main carer, that he cries because he misses his wife.
"My grandmother misses her husband terribly and still want to do what she can to care for him - even if it’s just sitting by his side holding his hand."
Mr Bates said that Mrs Lorrison will soon be expected to return home, and live alone, with carers tending to her many needs.
He said: "My grandmother is currently in hospital and social services have decided that she is fit to go home - home alone, to an empty three-bedroom house with anti-social neighbours - with carers visiting for 15 minutes at a time, four times a day.
"The care home my grandfather is in has a space for my grandmother too but social services won't allow her to be admitted as she doesn't fit their criteria."
Council bosses say they are not able to comment on individual cases.
A South Tyneside Council spokesperson said: “The council is not able to comment on individual cases, however any decision on care and support for an individual is based on their own needs and is made in line with the Care Act.
“Where possible South Tyneside Council supports older people to remain independent and in their homes. A decision to admit any individual to residential care is a major one and often means they are unlikely to return to their own home. All factors must therefore be considered through a professional assessment of the individual’s needs before taking such a significant decision. If a couple require the same type of care we will always try and ensure they remain together, but we would not automatically take away an individual’s independence to achieve that."
To sign the petition click here