'Going from strength to strength' Swansea man gets life back after help from homeless charity

  • By ITV Wales reporter, Siôn Jenkins

A man from Swansea has said he is now "going from strength to strength" after being helped by a homeless charity.

Marc Thomas, 46, became homeless after running a pub that went bust just before lockdown. As well as his livelihood, the premises was also his home and after a series of unfortunate events, Marc found himself with nowhere to live.

He says the pandemic just made things worse for him as well. "I was even more isolated, I didn't want to socialise and didn't want to see anyone."

However, through the help of the homeless charity Crisis, Mark was able to get into emergency accommodation and has since moved into a flat. The support from the charity has helped him get back on his feet.

He said: "I don't know where I'd be if I'm honest. I owe them a great deal, because I've started to get my confidence back and started to function in society and I'm going from strength to strength, I'm very grateful to Crisis and what they've done."

Marc is one of the people to benefit from the Welsh Government's suspension of the 'priority need' test, which was in place to provide housing to those deemed in need of it for emergency reasons.

That included pregnant women, victims of domestic abuse and households with dependant children.

New research in Homelessness Monitor Wales 2021, found that 19 out of Wales' 22 councils believe the suspension of the 'priority need' test was important in preventing or minimising homelessness in the country.

And now two thirds of local authorities support the permanent removal of the test, which prevents some single adults with no children from getting rehousing support.

The report found that the Welsh Government's response to dealing with homelessness had been 'widely praised' by local authorities. 21 councils said the provision of self-contained emergency accommodation has been important in preventing or minimising homelessness across the country.

But those councils say they are now expecting a rise in people seeking homelessness support because of evictions from private tenancies, job losses and home owner repossession.

The ban on most evictions from homes in Wales ended in June, but six-month notice periods have been extended until at least the end of 2021.

The CEO of the charity Crisis, Jon Sparkes, has said the Welsh Government has used its devolved powers effectively to provide emergency housing, as well as continuing to fund crucial move-on accommodation, but thinks worrying times still lie ahead.

"It is vital that this highly effective action is continued so we can end homelessness in Wales for good," he added.

"It is very concerning that as we enter winter, councils across Wales are expecting rises in homelessness.

"It is critical that councils, government, health services and charities continue working together, as they have done throughout the pandemic, to ensure no one slips through the cracks, no one is left out of support."

Professor Suzanne Fitzpatrick of Heriot-Watt University, the lead author of the report, said: "The Wales Homelessness Monitor shows that interventions targeting homelessness during the pandemic were highly effective at making sure the many people experiencing or at risk of homelessness had somewhere safe to stay."But our research also illustrates that the economic aftermath of the pandemic risks an immediate rise in levels of homelessness.

"Looking forward, we must build on the positive work happening in Wales through the current Programme for Government and five-year Action Plan to make sure the Covid-19 crisis doesn't lead to increased levels of homelessness, and that we achieve long lasting change."For Marc, he says he is now glad to be moving forward in his life. Since moving into a flat he has also started working in a hotel kitchen as well as volunteering for Crisis.He says there is support for people when they need it and they just need to look for it.

Homeless organisations if you need support: