Family-of-3 forced to self-isolate in back of van with engine running in lay-by

A family of three are sleeping in the back of a van as they try to self-isolate during the coronavirus pandemic.

Ryan Whitestone, 35, his wife Paige, and four-year-old son Ronan, had hoped to be living in their new social housing accommodation in Llantwit Major by now.

They were originally told it would be completed in November, 2019, but it's not yet ready, and could be further delayed by the current medical crisis.

Instead the family have been sleeping in their van with the engine running so they can use the heater to stave off the cold at night, report WalesOnline.

They've parked up in car parks and lay-bys, wherever they can find somewhere to stop to catch some sleep.

In agreement with Vale of Glamorgan Council, they spent a night at a Premier Inn in Barry, but are not able to afford this long term.

Before last Sunday, they were living in a caravan at a site in Trecco Bay, Porthcawl, until they received an email from Parkdean Resorts saying it was shutting because of the Covid-19 pandemic and the family would have to leave.

Ryan Whitestone  told Wales Online: “The Prime Minister is telling us we can't be out on the street but we've spent hours walking around parks and buying our food from garages or supermarkets.

"My wife goes into the shop gloved up and changes her clothes before going back into the van.

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"We try and make it fun for Ronan and shield him from it as much as possible, he's four years old and a bit resilient and he doesn't really know what's going on. He just wants to know why we aren't in a house.”

Mr Whitestone, from Barry, a full-time master technician for Allied Vehicles, has bronchitis and chronic asthma and has been told by his doctors that he is at risk and needs to self-isolate.

He was advised against moving to a hostel offered by the council because of an increased risk of infection.

He added: ”If I catch it, with my chest, I don’t know whether I’d get over it.

"We thought about Paige and Ronan going to the hostel and I'll stay in the van but it defeats the object if she goes and mixes with everyone there.

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"I have a letter from my GP to say he doesn't recommend I go into the hostel because of my health conditions. The council have said there is nothing they can do, or I can pay privately for a hotel.”

Therefore, Mr Whitestone made the difficult decision for the family to sleep in his van until their social home is ready.

The family's situation changed in November, 2019, when people they had been staying with could no longer accommodate them.

They are on a waiting list with Vale of Glamorgan Council for a three-bed home at Heritage Gate in Llantwit Major, but the completion date for construction has been pushed back repeatedly.

A Vale of Glamorgan Council spokesperson said: "Shared Regulatory Services, who operate on behalf of the Vale of Glamorgan, Cardiff and Bridgend councils, are investigating the circumstances surrounding Mr Whitestone’s departure from the caravan park.

"He and his family were subsequently offered appropriate temporary accommodation, which would have allowed them to self-isolate, but this was declined."

A spokesperson for United Welsh said: "These particular homes at Heritage Park in Llantwit Major have not yet been finished so have not been handed over to United Welsh by the developers, Persimmon.

"Once they are handed over to us we would be able to inform the Vale of Glamorgan Council that they are ready for people waiting on their housing list. We are in contact with Persimmon about how long it will take for the homes to be completed. We appreciate these are difficult and unprecedented times for everyone and are also speaking to colleagues at the Vale of Glamorgan Council.”

  • Coronavirus
  • Family
  • Boris Johnson
  • Paige

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