Denise's story. Experiencing homelessness in Wales.

Fersiwn Cymraeg isod / Welsh version below

Denise received a Section 21 (also known as a ‘no fault eviction’) notification from her landlord to leave the flat she was living in with her children and partner. After visiting the council, Denise explained that her children were found accommodation via social services but she was not and the council told her to return to the flat.

Having split from her violent partner, she could not afford the rent and arrears were building. She felt like she was forgotten. After speaking with her landlord, they agreed to give her more time to find somewhere more affordable to move to. Upon learning of this, the council deemed Denise now not to be facing homelessness as the landlord was not enforcing the Section 21.

"They [the council] seemed really helpful and nice when I went in, they weren’t nasty, or they didn’t seem judgemental and stuff, but I never had anything back, I just had a few leaflets to go home with."

Denise could not stay at the flat as she was scared of the threats she was receiving from her ex-partner. Instead, she sofa-surfed and was told by the council, after contacting them again, not to leave the flat. If she did, she was told they would find her intentionally homeless, and they would not be able to help her.

“I was advised [by the council] to keep hold of the flat, not make myself homeless, even though I was getting further into debt. So, during that time I was basically having a really long nervous breakdown, I think.”

Denise’s mental health suffered because of accruing large amounts of rent arrears from her previous home and uncertainty over her future. Things were complicated further when her mother passed away and Denise was left a house in severe disrepair which was uninhabitable. Despite continuing to sofa surf at various friends’ homes, the council still insisted she was not homeless. This was despite the fact she no longer had access to the flat and her old flat had been cleared by the landlord.

"So basically, they said I wasn’t eligible because I well, they said I wasn’t homeless because I could’ve either gone to my mother’s house, which obviously wasn’t liveable then, or to the flat."

She felt angry at having ‘stayed’ in the flat upon the council’s advice. Sofa-surfing continued to affect her mental health to the point friends had to speak to the council on her behalf.

"My mental health was so bad, I wasn’t able to speak. I was walking around with shades on, I couldn’t look at anyone, I was crying all the time, I was so depressed."

The impact of the council’s assessment of Denise’s situation – one of potential intentional homelessness – left her in limbo; worried about the actions of her old landlord and the fear of losing friends because she felt like she was taking advantage of their kindness. Without the support of friends, she feared she would have been on the streets.

"You trust the council because that’s the main one. And when they turned round and said they’re still not going to help I just feel like despair really. I just couldn’t see a way out and big debts were mounting up and everything was so bleak."

Sadly, Denise’s health deteriorated further and she had to spend time in hospital. It was during her recovery period that she received support from Women’s Aid and Crisis, where she took a course on finding accommodation and maintaining a tenancy. As a result, she applied for an advertised social housing flat and was accepted. The rent arrears on the old flat were cleared and the housing association were supportive of her application.

Relieved of the threat of being on the street and having somewhere to call home has helped her rebuild her relationships with her children and she hopes to be able to see more of her grandchildren in the future too. Once the Covid-19 restrictions pass she is looking forward to getting involved in activities provided by local organisations.

 

Derbyniodd Denise hysbysiad Adran 21 enwir troi allan heb fai gan ei landlord i adael y fflat yr oedd yn byw ynddo gyda’i phlant a’i phartner. Ar ôl ymweld â’r Cyngor, eglurodd Denise y cafodd ei phlant lety drwy’r gwasanaethau cymdeithasol, ond nid hi, a dywedodd y cyngor wrthi i ddychwelyd i’r fflat. Ar ôl gorffen ei pherthynas gyda’i phartner treisgar, ni allai fforddio’r rhent, ac roedd yr ôl-ddyledion yn cynyddu. Roedd yn teimlo fel ei bod wedi’i hanghofio. Ar ôl siarad gyda’i landlord, cytunodd i roi rhagor o amser iddi i ddod o hyd i rywle mwy fforddiadwy i symud iddo. Ar ôl cael gwybod am hyn, nid oedd y cyngor yn ystyried Denise fel rhywun oedd yn wynebu digartrefedd mwyach, gan nad oedd y landlord yn gorfodi’r Adran 21.

"Ro’n nhw [y cyngor] i weld yn barod i helpu ac yn garedig pan es i mewn, doedden nhw ddim yn gas, nac i weld yn beirniadu nac unrhyw beth felly, ond ni chlywais unrhyw beth wedyn, cefais ychydig o daflenni i fynd adref gyda mi a dyna ni."

Doedd dim modd i Denise aros yn y fflat gan ei bod yn poeni am fygythiadau ei chyn-bartner. Yn hytrach, dechreuodd syrffio-soffas a dywedodd y cyngor wrthi, ar ôl iddi gysylltu â nhw eto, i beidio â gadael y fflat. Pe byddai’n gadael y fflat, dywedwyd wrthi y byddai’n cael ei hystyried yn ddigartref yn fwriadol, ac felly ni fyddai modd ei helpu.

"Cefais gyngor [gan y Cyngor] i ddal fy ngafael ar y fflat, i beidio â gwneud fy hun yn ddigartref, er bod fy nyledion yn cynyddu. Felly, yn ystod y cyfnod hwnnw, ro’n i’n cael chwalfa nerfus hir iawn, dw i’n meddwl."

Bu i iechyd meddwl Denise ddioddef gan ei bod wedi cronni cyfansymiau mawr iawn o ôl-ddyledion rhent o’i chyn-gartref, ac ansicrwydd ynghylch ei dyfodol. Aeth pethau’n fwy cymhleth wedyn pan fu farw mam Denise, a chafodd Denise dŷ oedd bron yn adfeiledig nad oedd modd byw ynddo yn yr ewyllys. Er iddi barhau i syrffio-soffas mewn cartrefi ambell i ffrind, roedd y Cyngor yn dal i fynnu nad oedd yn ddigartref. Roedd hyn er gwaethaf y ffaith nad oedd ganddi fynediad i’r fflat mwyach, ac roedd y landlord hyd yn oed wedi clirio’r hen fflat.

"Felly, yn syml, dywedon nhw nad oeddwn yn gymwys achos, wel, dywedon nhw nad oeddwn i’n gymwys oherwydd byddwn i wedi gallu mynd i dŷ fy mam, nad oedd modd byw ynddo bryd hynny, na’r fflat."

Roedd yn teimlo’n flin am ‘aros’ yn y fflat ar ôl dilyn cyngor y Cyngor. Roedd syrffio-soffas yn dal i effeithio ar ei hiechyd meddwl i’r fath raddau bod ei ffrindiau wedi dechrau cysylltu â’r cyngor ar ei rhan.

"Roedd fy iechyd meddwl mor wael fel nad oeddwn yn gallu siarad. Ro’n i’n cerdded o amgylch y lle gyda sbectol haul, nid oeddwn yn gallu edrych ar unrhyw un, ro’n i’n crïo drwy’r amser, ro’n i’n ofnadwy o isel."

Bu i effaith asesiad y cyngor o sefyllfa Denise – un o ddigartrefedd bwriadol posibl – ei gadael mewn sefyllfa amhosib; roedd yn poeni am weithrediadau ei hen landlord ac yn poeni am golli ffrindiau gan ei bod hi’n teimlo fel ei bod yn cymryd mantais o’u caredigrwydd. Heb gefnogaeth ei ffrindiau, roedd yn poeni y gallai fod wedi bod ar y strydoedd.

"Rydych yn ymddiried yn y cyngor gan mai nhw yw’r prif un. A phan wnaethant droi rownd a dweud nad oeddent yn mynd i fy helpu eto, teimlais yn anobeithiol. Nid oeddwn yn gallu gweld ffordd allan ac roedd dyledion mawr yn cronni ac roedd popeth mor ddigalon."

Yn anffodus, bu i iechyd Denise waethygu ymhellach, roedd rhaid iddi dreulio peth amser yn yr ysbyty. Yn ystod ei chyfnod yn gwella, cafodd gefnogaeth gan Gymorth i Fenywod a Crisis a mynd ar gwrs ar ddod o hyd i lety a chynnal tenantiaeth. O ganlyniad, gwnaeth gais am fflat tai â chymorth oedd yn cael ei hysbysebu, a chafodd ei chais ei dderbyn. Cafodd yr ôl-ddyledion rhent ar yr hen fflat eu clirio, ac roedd y gymdeithas dai’n gefnogol o’i chais.

Heb y bygythiad o fod ar y stryd, a chyda rhywle i alw’n gartref iddi, mae wedi gallu ailadeiladu ei pherthynas gyda’i phlant, ac mae’n gobeithio gweld mwy o’i hwyrion ac wyresau yn y dyfodol hefyd. Unwaith y mae cyfyngiadau Covid-19 yn dod i ben, mae’n edrych ymlaen at gymryd rhan mewn gweithgareddau a ddarperir gan sefydliadau lleol.

By sharing stories we can change attitudes and build a movement for permanent, positive change. Stand against homelessness and help us end it for good.