The Lawsons - Betty, her husband and their sons Ronnie and Clifford - had been evicted from their home for not paying their rent in mid-1966. Unable to provide for his family, Betty's husband cleared off, leaving the boys with her. Betty and her sons ended up living in a basement off Rochdale Road for 25 bob a week, with Betty taking whatever casual work she could get and keeping the boys off school to avoid the risk of the council putting them in care.
The family turned up in Coronation Street after being thrown out of their Rochdale Road home. Inhabiting the parlour of No.3 which had lain empty since Frank Barlow moved out in 1964, the Lawsons kept their presence hidden from the neighbours and only left and entered the house through the back door. They managed to conceal themselves for four days before Ena and Jerry found them. The pair had entered the house with landlord Alfred Wormold's permission to clean the property in preparation for the "Best Kept Street" competition. Dirty, ragged and browbeaten, Betty presented a pitiful sight to their visitors, and Ronnie and Clifford even more so. To protect her sons, Betty explained her circumstances to Ena and Jerry and asked them not to shop her to the council. The pair disapproved, with Ena being particularly scathing of Betty not sending her sons to school and Clifford not being able to read, but were unable to decide how to proceed and informed Len Fairclough, Ken Barlow and Stan Ogden. As a precautionary measure, the Lawsons started packing but they were interrupted by Len and Ken. Covering up the fact that he was a councillor, Len pretended to be from the Weatherfield cricket team and offered to get in touch with friends to help the family, assuring Betty that they wouldn't be separated.
The nod of approval from Len gave Betty the confidence to show herself to the rest of the neighbours. Some, such as Minnie Caldwell and Valerie Barlow, were sympathetic and made donations to the Lawsons, of a rocking chair and kitchenware in the former case and money for shopping in the latter, with Irma Barlow going halves with Val after initially refusing Betty credit. However, others including Hilda Ogden wanted rid of the family while Ken, although sympathetic, believed that they were the welfare's responsibility and asked Len as his councillor to have them removed. Things appeared to be looking up when a good samaritan posted £1 through the Lawsons' letterbox, allowing Betty to splash out at the Corner Shop, but shortly afterwards the family received a visit from Mr Fitch from the health department, Miss Simpson from the children's department and a policeman who forcibly moved them on having been told about them by Len. The family were driven off just as the judges arrived for the "Best Kept Street" competition, but need not have created an unfavourable impression were it not for Hilda Ogden telling judge Mrs Delamere the whole story. Betty's sons were subsequently taken into care.
- Credited as "Mrs. Betty Lawson".