Plasterer from Swansea 'didn't want to live anymore' after mother's death and fear of homelessness

After his mother passed away, Dean made an attempt at taking his own life. Credit: ITV Cymru Wales

A plasterer from Swansea tried to take his own life after a marriage breakdown, heart attack and his mother's death left him struggling in emergency temporary accommodation.

When Dean had a heart attack aged 39, his life was thrown into turmoil. A period of illness coincided with the caring responsibilities he had for his mother, who was living with dementia.

A breakdown in his marriage followed, leaving Dean sleeping on a single bed in a room on his own. After his mother passed away, Dean made an attempt at taking his own life.

The total number of people living in temporary accommodation across Wales rose by over 50% between 2019 and 2022. Credit: ITV Cymru Wales

“I couldn’t live in that room. I didn’t want to live anymore,” Dean told ITV’s Wales This Week. 

Faced with homelessness, Dean was one of many people during the Covid pandemic who was placed in emergency temporary accommodation.

Latest figures obtained by ITV Cymru Wales show that the total number of people living in temporary accommodation across Wales rose by over 50% between 2019 and 2022.

“I was fortunate,” Dean continued. “There were people who had been there [a hotel in Swansea] nine months.

“I think I was there [for] about six months. But I needed to get out of there.” 

Thanks to the help of The Wallich’s Rapid Rehousing Team in Swansea, Dean secured a tenancy in a privately rented flat.

Julie James is responsible for housing policy in Wales in her role as minister for climate change.

He currently lives alone, but despite living with long term health conditions including Myalgic Encephalomyelitis (ME) - also known as Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, and fibromyalgia, he has a positive outlook for the future. 

“I had to sign the tenancy agreement and I broke down in tears, it was such a relief,” he said. 

“Things are so much better than what they were. My life is so simple at the moment.

“I’m getting the support and that’s what’s different this time. I am finding the strength is coming from the support that I’ve had and the support that I’m continuing to have."

He added: “On my own I wouldn’t feel strong. I didn’t feel strong.

“I didn’t think life was worth it, and now I’m looking forwards, I’m looking ahead, I’m looking towards education. And the more that I achieve, I think strength will come from that.”

Shortly after Dean moved into his privately rented flat, the Welsh Government announced new legislation - making changes to the Renting Homes Act.

It gives tenants more rights, but it also adds pressure to a rental market already under strain.

Mel Newcombe works for the Wallich’s Rapid Rehousing Scheme and says it's a struggle to house people in the current climate. Credit: ITV Cymru Wales

Mel Newcombe, who works for the Wallich’s Rapid Rehousing Scheme, supported Dean through the process. 

“At the moment all the B&Bs in this area of Swansea are full to capacity,” she told ITV Cymru Wales. 

“All the emergency beds are full. So it really is a struggle at the minute to rehouse. What we’re finding across the sector is it’s really difficult at the moment to access private rented accommodation."

She continued: "Purely because the change in legislation [is causing] a lot of the landlords to sell. 

“[That] is generating more eviction notices for our clients which is then putting the pressure on the local authority as well to rehouse them.”

The Welsh Government admits the policy change has led to an ‘anecdotal’ rise in eviction notices, but believes the impact will be short term while landlords get used to the new rules.

Housing minister Julie James told Wales This Week: "I think once the myths have died down we’ll see this settle down and we’ll have a much more stable market."

You can catch up with Wales This Week: Nowhere To Call Home here