After being homeless for four years, Shane Lingwood, 19, and his father, Sean Ward, 56, are thankful they now have a roof over their head, and plenty of donations from the public.
The pair were first made homeless in 2015, and moved around many times before spending the past six months living in a tent on the outskirts of Barnsley Cemetery. During this time, their tent was repeatedly slashed by vandals and they had their possessions stolen leaving them only with the clothes they were wearing.
“Living in the tent was rough,” said Sean, who featured in the Chronicle two weeks ago. “Our tent was always wet from condensation and it meant that our clothes were wet and our bedding was wet and it was really hard to get dry.
“Shane got pneumonia because of the damp conditions but there was nowhere else for us to go to get dry and leave the tent.”
Now, after help from Local Mencap Barnsley, the Homeless Alliance and the Housing Options team Shane and Sean have a roof over their heads as the weather draws in and are beginning to turn their lives around.
“I feel civilised again,” said Sean. “Being able to turn on a light, or use the bathroom, and not feeling roots and mud underneath you while you sleep feels really good.
“While we were living in the tent I felt very primal and I’m still trying to get used to living in a flat because the world seems so loud now. Car alarms wake me up, and people slamming doors sounds so loud to me.”
Having only been in their flat for a few weeks, Shane and Sean are already looking to the future.
“We’ve had family over to see our flat,” said Sean. “I saw my daughter who I haven’t seen for eight months and I’m excited to see my granddaughter when the flat is more suitable for babies.”
The pair have also been overwhelmed after multiple donations were made to help them get back on their feet, including a surge in support following the original article in the Chronicle, and another mention in Milly Johnson’s column in Chronicle Living last week.
“We’ve had people coming almost every day,” said business development manager at Local Mencap Barnsley, Mike Moran. “A woman came in and filled our minibus with the amount of donations she had and another man donated £200 which Shane and Sean will use towards their electricity bills.
“It’s great to see the community pull together and help people who are in need.
“The donations we have received have been amazing and speak to the kindness of the people of Barnsley.”
Now, Sean is urging people to be more kind and to help other homeless people.
“I want to do more to help people who are where Shane and I used to be,” he said.
“I want to thank everyone who donated, it means so much.”