Woman who is eight weeks pregnant forced to live in tent after becoming homeless

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A woman who is eight weeks pregnant has been forced to camp out in a tent after becoming homeless .
Hellen, 40, has been camping out with her boyfriend near Swansea's seafront as she struggles to survive with her boyfriend.
Every evening, she says goodbye to him as he heads off to try and make some money for them and the forthcoming child, Wales Online reported .
She gets left with their friend Fletcher while her boyfriend tries to beg a few coins - something Hellen cannot do because a police order bans her from asking for money in the town centre.
Hellen said: “Six weeks I’ve been here.
“My partner is out begging. We’ve had the tent slashed, people damaging the cords.
“We’ve been banned from town for a week, for begging. That’s what we all do, but it is Freshers Week now, so they are clearing the town for students week. Getting rid of us.
“My boyfriend’s been in hospital for the last three days, but he’s out now and he’s had to go begging for us.”
The couple saved up £80 to pay for their tent, but own little else. They use the Civic Centre facilities occasionally, where they praise the security staff there for the tolerant way in which they are treated, but it’s not somewhere of her own she can use as her pregnancy advances.
She said: “What toilet facilities have we got?
“I’m a woman. We’ll go in there [the Civic Centre] for a one-off, but if we go in too much, security push us out.
“I’m not too good at the moment. I’m bleeding now.
“I’ve got a midwife, got a doctor, but there’s nothing they can do for me.
“I’ve been living here six weeks, but nine months on the street. And that’s because of domestic violence from another relationship.
“Me and my boyfriend have been trying to get on each other’s claims since August, so that we can get a house together.
“He’s my partner, and we’re engaged to be married and to be honest I’m going to be with him no matter what.
“If that means staying out here, I’ll stay out here.
“We went through all last week that rain, and you can imagine we’ve been having it all.
“I stay here during the day with my partner and during the night I’m here with Fletch, and my partner goes out begging. He’s just texted me now saying he’s got money, and he’s going to get some food.
“I’ve got to have my partner with me during the day, Fletcher with me during the night because people do get aggressive.
“It’s not too bad but we do sometimes get people coming down here when they’re pissed, being aggressive.
“Fletch will zip up the tent and tell me not to come out until they’re gone.
“But then you’ll get other people who’ll come up and give us £2, £3, because they see us here all the time. We move, but our tents don’t.
“People think we are begging for drugs, alcohol, whatever, but we are out here for a living.
“There’s been times we’ve stopped people jumping in the water.”
It isn’t the first time Hellen has been pregnant. She says she has a daughter she saw the other day.
“I was by McDonalds, and I heard someone and I thought ‘I know that voice’. I turned around and she gave me £2 but told me I’d have to beg the other pound for a bottle.”
Her friend Fletcher, 57, has deep-vein thrombosis in both legs, and has suffered two heart attacks, and three strokes.
He said: “We survive the best we can, without committing crime, which is hard.
“I’ve been here ten weeks in this tent. I’ve come from Port Talbot, where they say they say they’ll help me with property, but I’ll have to find one first. They tell us to find something on Facebook - but how can you get Facebook here?
“I’ve only got a tent. We’ve got nada. We’re third class citizens. The police don’t help or anything.”
The unpredictable treatment by the public is just one of the ongoing challenges faced by people living on the street.
Emergency shelter is limited. Charity The Wallich has a limited number of beds at its base on The Strand, as do the Missionaries of Charity, and charity Caer Las.
It is one of the reasons that calls have started to be made for the establishment of a ‘safe zone’ in Swansea - an area which can provide sleeping space, a roof, and basic toilet facilities.
Earlier this summer, something similar opened in Bristol - a 30-bed 24-hour homeless night shelter made possible with £600,000 government funding, which has increased the number of emergency bed spaces in the city from 65 to 107.
It’s an idea being championed in Swansea by Plaid Cymru.
The party’s candidate for Gower is financial broker John Davies, who has for the past six years been working with night shelters in Swansea, and more recently joining weekly soup runs which provide hot food and clothes for the homeless. Pantygwydr Church in Uplands, and Bethel Chapel in Sketty, are two churches which provide support for the homeless.
“It can be quite intimidating on the streets,” he said.
“People are vulnerable, but they get treated in an awful way. They have to hide just to exist.
“Sometimes they are not safe from each other, and sometimes they have people coming out of pubs who are drunk who start beating them up.
“It is evident no-one is looking after them. A safe zone would be a place where they are looked after. It could be something like a portable cabin, or a converted shipping container.
“It doesn’t have to be elaborate, just somewhere they know they can get a good night’s sleep, and know they are not going to get beaten up.
“The cost would not have to be huge, and it would save the money spent if people are arrested and have to go through the prison system, when they would come out more agitated.”
Another homeless man Daniel, first started living on the streets in 2001 following the death of his father.
He said: “I’m in a B&B at the minute so I’m alright, but a safe zone would help.
“It would be good from a social aspect as well, because it keeps us together.
“I don’t get grief because I play it safe. I walk around, I’m nice to people, I’m nice to police.
“But you do hear people saying ‘ you junky, get a ******* job, I’m not paying for your crack habit, whatever’.
“I’ve been homeless about two years. I just come out of jail. I committed a burglary, drugs and that.
“A safe zone would be handy. I’d say have it near the beach, you could put up tents there. You’d be helping the community and making people aware.”
And another homeless man, Dan, also found himself arrested for begging.
He said: “I got arrested the other week waiting for a chip shop to open on Bryn y Mor Road. Two officers said I was begging but I didn’t have nothing out in front of me, I was just sitting down.
“Instead of punishing us, why not help us? Because many a time they’ve said they are going to do this, do that, but I’ve seen nothing.
“I try and find somewhere where it is quiet and out of the way, so I feel safer.
“Sometimes I sleep on the Pantygwdyr church steps and also the Jehovah's Witness church, there’s a bit of shelter there. Basically, wherever I can find a bit of shelter where it is quiet for the night.
“I’d love a place, like a safe zone. I need a bit of support, a bit of guidance, a bit of help.”
John, who has been sleeping rough for more than ten years, agreed: “This place really needs shaking up.
“There are more and more places being built for students, but what about us who already live in the community?
“We often get abused. We have rocks thrown at us, everything, just for sitting there.
“It’s worse when people are leaving the pubs. What we want is like a community club, or a community space.
“There is nothing at the moment for anyone. Some of the police move us on, sometimes they don’t.
“They can move us on, but we’re only going to go down the road, or somewhere else."
South Wales Police say 'protecting the most vulnerable is a priority in the communities they serve', and officers work closely with partners to ensure services are available for those in need.
But they say they are equally committed to tackling crime and antisocial behaviour in our city centre, which is regularly highlighted in PACT meetings.
Swansea Council, meanwhile, has just finished consultation on a draft homeless strategy.
The strategy aims to ensure advice, accommodation and support is available to everyone to prevent homelessness.
The authority’s strategy describes demand for social housing as high.
In May, there were 450 households who were vulnerably housed or threatened with homelessness on the council’s waiting list of approximately 5,000.
The council says it consistently lets around a third of its vacant properties each year to homeless households, but that helps contribute to housing demand outstripping supply.
Council figures reveal rough sleeping, as in the rest of Wales, is on the rise in Swansea, with a 44% increase in estimated number of rough sleepers across Wales between 2015 and 2017, compared with 37% in Swansea - and predicts a potential increase.
It identifies the continuing impact of the economic climate, financial pressures and personal debt as some of the reasons, and also notes a lack of one bedroom accommodation, in particular affordable housing for under 35 year olds.
The draft strategy concludes that although Swansea is ‘well served with an extensive range of temporary accommodation’, it needs to look at improving provision.
Swansea Council cabinet member for homes and energy, councillor Andrea Lewis, said: The extent and complexity of the issues that face the Council and its partners over the next four years should not be under-estimated.
“However publishing a strategy is the easy bit. Homelessness cannot be solved by simply securing housing. Tackling homelessness is the responsibility of the council as a corporate body and has major implications for us delivering on our corporate goals to safeguard vulnerable people and children and to tackle poverty.
“We will ensure that homelessness continues to hold a high priority at a corporate level.”

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