Gemma’s Story

Gemma was heavily pregnant when she had to flee her privately rented home due to threats of violence towards her and her family. She approached the council to be rehoused, but because Gemma hadn’t reported the threats to the police, due to fear of reprisals, she was found intentionally homeless.

As a result Gemma had to leave her temporary accommodation, and was sofa surfing with friends when she gave birth to her daughter.

Eventually Gemma managed to successfully appeal the council’s decision. However, the stress and anxiety of the previous months – including the fact that her daughter’s first few months of life were in unsuitable accommodation – left a lasting mark on her mental health.

Angie’s Story

Angie was faced with unaffordable rent when her partner walked out on her and her two children. Because there was no way she could afford the rent on her own, she did what she thought was the responsible thing and handed in notice to her landlord before she fell into serious arrears.

Initially the local authority placed her in temporary accommodation, but then they decided that since Angie had given up her property wilfully then she had made herself intentionally homeless.

Angie and her children, both aged under 10, had been offered a new tenancy in social housing but because of the intentionality decision this had to be withdrawn. At the time of writing Angie and the children were sharing a single bedroom in her mother’s cramped two-bed flat, while they await a review of the local authority’s decision. Angie says that living like this is challenging and chaotic, and every day is getting harder.

Eli’s Story

Eli and her partner had a newborn baby when they moved into a privately rented flat in mid Wales. They soon realised the flat was in a poor state of repair: ‘There was damp all over the walls,’ she said, ‘and it was freezing. We kept phoning the landlady to say, but she never came.’

Living in these conditions took its toll on the baby’s health. ‘The baby kept getting sick with chest infections and coughs,’ said Eli. ‘We had to get out of there.’

In desperation Eli and her partner moved out. The baby’s health improved immediately. But when Eli tried to get the council to help them find somewhere else to live, they were told they should go back to the flat.

‘The council said it was reckless for us to leave the house without a plan with a baby,’ said Eli, who was 18 at the time. ‘But all we knew was that the baby was always ill in that house but has been fine since.

‘They made us feel like we were trying it on to get a council house, but we weren’t. It was grim.’