A 74-year-old who is living in a motorhome on a Swansea side street says he cannot be parted from his beloved dogs and struggles to cope in a flat.
Les Bennett has been parked in Uplands for around eight weeks after he said he was moved on from Swansea Marina.
He said he didn’t wish anyone any harm but felt under pressure to leave St James Crescent, where his Fiat Ducato motorhome was shaded by an overhanging tree.
Les said he had hoped to spend some time in the Brecon Beacons or in Newport, where a friend of his has land, but he felt tied to his home city of Swansea due to the coronavirus restrictions and because of the medication, he needed for severe depression.
“People don’t realise the life I’ve had,” he said.
“I’m not hurting anybody, and I won’t hurt anybody.”
Les said his van was taxed and insured and had an up-to-date MoT certificate. He shares it with his two Jack Russells.
He said he had two heaters, and washing and cooking facilities.
He takes his clothes to a local laundrette, has a change of bedding for the dogs, and puts empty water bottles in a pink recycling bag just outside the van.
Getting enough fresh water, he said, could be an issue, although he said a nearby church had helped out.
“I live off my pension,” said Les. “I don’t drink and I don’t smoke – if I did I wouldn’t be able to survive.”
He said some local people were friendly and greeted him on their way past.
“They say, ‘All right, Les?’ People are keeping an eye out for me. But they don’t realise what I’m going through.”
Les said police officers had been “pretty good” with him, but he said he felt Swansea Council wanted him to get going.
He wasn’t sure what would happen next but said a friend of his was trying to get him a place on a site in Fforestfach which has a stand for motorhomes and fresh water.
Les said he grew up in Port Tennant, and that his father died when he was 10.
He said he got a job aged 16 with baking firm Mother’s Pride and had always worked, culminating in a 27-year stint at the old Ford motor plant off Fabian Way.
Les said his wife died around 12 years ago, and that things had been tough.
St James Crescent is a generally quiet residential and office area, but Les said there had been one night-time knock on his motorhome.
“A woman was standing there and she said she was a working girl,” he said.
“I said I’m a retired man, and I shut the door.”
Les said he sympathised with her – and that he had given money to people in need on the streets while in Uplands.
“I’ve got a heart like that,” he said.
Les doesn’t know what the future holds, but said he would always stick by his dogs.
Uplands councillor Irene Mann said the authority was trying to resolve the situation as sensitively as possible.
She said concerns had been raised about propane canisters, which she said had been addressed.
Cllr Mann said of Les: “He’s a lovely guy, but he’s vulnerable. It’s hugely difficult.
“We are trying to move the matter forward in the most sensitive and sympathetic way.
“Lots of us are involved to try and create a safe place from him to go.”
The Covid-19 situation, she said, had made this more challenging, especially as caravan parks had been shut in the spring and early summer.
“We are concerned for his well-being,” said Cllr Mann.
A council spokesman said: “We’ve met with Mr Bennett to offer him advice and support at this difficult time in his life.
“We are continuing to work with him to try to assist him in obtaining more suitable accommodation for him and his pets.”