Housing Day: Amanda's Story
I’m Amanda Lawrence, I am a Newydd tenant, and have been since 2008.
I was originally a single mum, and a council tenant. When I married my husband in 2003, we bought the house under the right to buy scheme, and thought we’d won the jackpot. But life likes to challenge people and our lives changed drastically.
I became disabled and we could no longer cope. In 2008, my husband had to give up work to care for me, and our young children. This put us in the awful position of going to court and facing eviction for non-payment of our mortgage.
Thanks to a wonderful scheme that sadly no longer exists, we were offered a lifeline, the Mortgage Rescue Scheme. It gave us the chance to sell the house to a housing association, who would take ownership of the property. It was so close to the edge we had confirmation that Newydd had bought the house less than 24 hours before court eviction!
I’ve said many times, I’m not ashamed of our journey, and being a tenant with Newydd has been the best decision we’ve ever made.
We are in a home that has been changed and adapted to suit my disability needs. I have a safe and warm home, which is constantly being updated and maintained. I am the queen of my castle, as I have the control of my front door, but at the same time, the knowledge that whenever I need it, there is help available to keep my home repaired.
Being a Newydd tenant has changed my life. As a disabled person who needs wheelchair access, if I had been forced into private rental, I would not have the ability to wash myself in a proper wet room, move about my entire house thanks to widened doors, stair lift and wheelchair ramp. I would probably have been trapped in a single room near the bathroom, unable to safely navigate around my home, nor could I have been a full and active parent, within my limitations.
Knowing that I have the security of my home as long as I want it is a liberating experience. Having faced the harsh reality in the past; of paying bills, mortgage or buying food for my family, and knowing I could only afford one option was heart-breaking. Today I am in a home I can afford, I can keep it warm and dry and my children are fed and bills are paid. I’ve faced money problems since then thanks to benefit changes. And every time I have been able to talk to a Newydd officer, who supported me through the difficult times, helped me to manage my limited finances, and helped reduce the stress and fear of being evicted.
Thanks to the support Newydd has offered us over the years, we have also been able to offer support to a homeless teenager, and now we have a full house of three teens, plus my husband and me. It is great that we have the opportunity to help others, in the same way that Newydd helped us so long ago.
I am in a home that was changed to fit my disability needs, while keeping it a family home. The children miss the bath that we had to lose for my wet room conversion. But we love that we have a garden that we can enjoy, space for a dining table to share meals and games with, and room to enjoy our lives together. This has been tested a lot during 2020, and while times have been difficult, as a family, we’ve come through feeling as strong as ever together, and part of this is due to us having a home that was big enough, and comfortable enough to relax in.
I hope that for the future, my children find a home where they feel they can put down roots, feel secure in their home and know that their landlord puts them first. All the things we have from Newydd.
Newydd has given me the chance to embrace my disability, to learn to live to the maximum possible, and to enjoy life. I was able to discover a love of crafts, as I didn’t have to stress about the basics of keeping a roof above our heads. I embraced volunteer work, and thanks to the opportunities Newydd offers me, I am able to be part of the tenant support for Newydd, and help get disability and related issues to the fore, when topics are discussed such as future planning, building regulations. Again, all because I am supported in my home, and have the energy spare to try to help others.