Simon Williams spent 15 years of his life struggling with his mental health and addicted to drugs including heroin and crack. But when he met and married the love of his life Anna Williams he found purpose and a reason to get clean.

Now proudly five years off heroin and three years off crack, he is the happiest and most stable he has ever been. However, his progress is all hanging in the balance.

The 42-year-old from Swansea explained how marrying Anna in 2022 saw him lose his bedsit and some of his benefits. The couple have been registered homeless ever since and have resided with Simon's mother. They now face having to move out by the end of March, without yet having accommodation secured from the council. For the latest Swansea news, sign up to our newsletter here

Simon, who is autistic, said the stress and uncertainty of the situation is building rapidly. He fears reaching breaking point and losing everything he's worked so hard to achieve.

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"I am holding on by a thread with my mental health and I don’t want to lose everything I’ve got," Simon said. "We don’t think we are special or deserve a home more than other people. I understand the reasons why people need housing. I also understand that if I don’t get one soon I risk losing a lot. If not, everything."

Describing how serious his mental health and drug addiction got, Simon said things got really bad after he completed his engineering degree at Swansea University and got a job working at a power company. Although on the face of it things seemed to be going well for him, his autism meant he struggled with working life and turned to drugs to soothe himself.

Head shot of Simon smiling
Simon hopes for a happy and stable future

He said: "I got a job and things quickly declined. I struggled dealing with people a lot so that was definitely a factor. With addiction, one minute you think you're doing it once every so often and then there comes a point where you are covered in black track marks and you are no longer able to control it.

"The worst point for me was when I was having to inject through abscesses in my veins. In any sound person’s mind that is insanity because you can push the pus into your bloodstream, but I didn't think of that. It was so much more important to me that I injected it. You can imagine how much it hurt, but it just doesn't matter to you."

Simon said often when people are in the clutches of addiction they fear stopping because of the painful and scary withdrawal symptoms. However, he found a reason to stop in Anna. He said: "You eventually find a reason to stop, and for me that was Anna. I stopped heroin because there were times where she worried that I wouldn't wake up the next day and I just couldn't keep putting her through that worry. I never imagined meeting someone could change my outlook on life so much."

Simon and Anna said they met on a fiction writing website where their characters got married. At the time, Simon was living in a bedsit in Morriston and was in the depths of his addiction, while Anna lived in Poland. "Despite my low income, I managed to save up and get her here," Simon said. "We met for the first time on the platform of Swansea train station. I had never felt like that ever before in my life. I felt that I would have done anything for her."

Anna and Simon hugging
Anna and Simon Williams worry what will happen if they do not secure housing

Completely besotted with each other, Simon said they decided they should get married six months after Anna arrived. Although Anna, 26, was in the UK at the time on a visiting Visa, Simon said they contacted immigration to find out how they could marry. He said the couple were mistakenly given the green light to go ahead with their marriage.

Although this is currently in the process of being fixed, it means Anna's current visa does not allow her to work. Meanwhile their marriage status also saw Simon lose his bedsit as well as a chunk of his financial benefits.

He explained: "The second I told the job centre I got married, they would no longer pay the housing benefit for a bedsit because it was not appropriate accommodation for the two of us. I had to give up my flat and I had no choice in that matter and then I had to make a new claim for housing.

"I get Employment Support Allowance and Personal Independence Payment. When you have both of those on full rate and you're living on your own you get about £50 to £80 more for severe disability allowance. If you marry they take that because they assume your partner is claiming carers allowance. I lost that money because Anna is not yet a citizen. We have only my lower income for the two of us until we hear back about her visa.

"Only after [we married] did we find out the full extent of fixing [the visa]. I'm not blaming anyone. We were in love and they said what we wanted to hear. [Marrying] was still the right thing. "

Simon said he owes his entire life to Anna and strongly believes he would not be here today if it wasn't for her love. He said: "My mental health and drug rehabilitation workers have said the difference is amazing. I feel that way too.

"Had Anna not come here or had I not met her I truly don't think that given how I felt at the time - which is hopeless in every sense of the word - I would be here to say this. She gave me a reason to fight on and she still does each and every day. I can't give up. She has never given up on me."

Anna and Simon hugging
Simon hopes to write fiction and Anna hopes to join the police

For the last two years, the couple have lived with Simon's mum in Swansea. However, work is needed on the house, which means Simon and Anna ideally need to move before the end of March. But despite being registered homeless ever since they married two years ago, the pair have still not heard any news on securing a home.

Simon said: "Housing knows I've been homeless since I've been married and I know they are trying their best to help. But we have very limited options. I have enquired about private renting which was suggested to me but my credit rating is ruined because of my previous addiction.

"As I'm educated I think people assume I can deal with this myself, but it doesn't always work like that. So far the love of my wife has kept me going but with the pressure going up eventually there is going to be a breaking point. I spent 15 years addicted to something so there is a worry as this pressure is building that I will take something. It hasn’t happened yet but it is very much a looming threat because addiction can creep up on you. I don't want to go back to being where I was because it was a horrible life.

"I also have quite a severe eating disorder anorexia. When I'm fine it is not an issue for me, but I'm noticing things are getting out of hand. It's a response I've always had to stress."

Where can I get help with drugs misuse?

Barod aims to support anyone ready to change their lives for the better. It provides high-quality, free, and confidential support and guidance to anyone affected by drug or alcohol use – either their own or someone else's.

It also raises awareness of the ways everyone can help to reduce the harm caused by substance misuse. The service provides a wide range of help from friends and family support to group work and harm-reduction activities. Alternatively you can call for advice on 01792 472002.

If Barod is not for you tryDan 24/7, the Wales drug and alcohol helpline, for advice.

Along with the love of his wife, Simon said he is currently getting by thanks to practical support from his mother along with emotional support from Anna's mum Megdalena and grandmother Kristina. However, Simon said he is currently in a make or break situation. If he were to get his own space, he feels well enough to get his life fully on track and start working from home. If his life continues in limbo, he worries that the uncertainty will catch up with him and harm his mental health for good.

He said: "There is such a chance here for me to move on and not require any more from the services that have supported me in the past. With autism part of the issue is I like to have routine and so it would be obviously more ideal if I had my own space. I think if I was able to move into my own space, I would be able to do something more productive.

"We met through fiction writing and that is something I can do from home. It's something I can present as a sensible option to start off with. Anna also wants to join the police. I would love to see her in the police as she would be an asset. She speaks Polish and there are a lot of Polish people here.

"I can really see a future for myself if I get out of this, before it starts to decline and I am unable to maintain it. I've never been this well before. I've finally got true happiness and a positive path which I've never had before. I'm just trying to get somewhere before I lose it."

A spokesman for Swansea council said: "An application for housing is currently being processed for Mr Williams. Discussions are ongoing through regular contact with his caseworker and we are working hard to provide appropriate accommodation for Mr Williams.

"The issue of homelessness in Swansea is one that the council takes very seriously and we have pledged to do all we can to prevent people from becoming homeless. This includes early intervention measures that support residents who have previously been assessed as being at risk of homelessness.

"In recent years the council has increased the amount of temporary accommodation it has to support people. We have also recently completed a number of additional emergency accommodation units to help ease the pressure on our housing waiting list."