A HOMELESS man who feared he would die if he continued living on Barrow streets has been rehomed thanks to the generosity of a new charity.

A 43-year-old homeless man has received the 'best Christmas present he could dream of' after being offered a house by Cumbria Community Homes.

The man, who is from Barrow and chose to remain anonymous, experienced a family breakdown which led him to lose his house earlier this year.

He said: "I went through a family breakdown and some financial difficulties which led to people coming after me.

"I was then forced to sleep in a tent in Barrow.

"It was horrible, I wouldn't wish it on anyone."

The formerly homeless man said the worst part of living on the streets was the treatment from passers by.

"People looked at me as if I was scum," he said.

"Everyone just presumed I was a drug addict looking to get my next fix.

"Nobody understood what it was really like.

"It's not fair to label every homeless person as the same.

"We've ended up on the streets for different reasons and circumstances which a lot of people don't understand.

"We need to change the misconception around homelessness.

"People need to realise we're not all bad."

The gentleman was homeless for four months before being approached by the charity Cumbria Community Homes.

"I was terrified about being homeless for Christmas," he said.

"Then I was told I was getting a home and couldn't believe it.

"It was absolutely brilliant.

"To be able to close my door, use my own bathroom, sleep in my own bed and know I'm safe is just the most amazing feeling.

"I'm over the moon, especially to be in a home before Christmas.

"This is the best present I could have ever asked for."

The formerly homeless man hopes his story encourages others to 'never give up'.

"Hopefully, I'm a success story to other homeless people," he said.

"This charity has saved my life and and made me realise people do have a heart.

"I would have died if it wasn't for them. I'm so beyond grateful."

Christine Hughes was one of the volunteers at Cumbria Community Homes who has helped homeless people and sofa surfers secure a permanent home.

Since setting up the group three months ago, the charity has helped house more than 20 people at risk of homelessness in Barrow.

Ms Hughes said the charity was set up in response to the demand for housing in the Furness area.

She said: "We receive about six to seven referrals every day from around Barrow, Kendal and Millom.

"We come from a background in housing so knew how considerable the demand was for this.

"Not only do we help homeless people find a home but we work with drug, alcohol and mental health facilities to ensure tenants receive continued support even after they are housed.

"We want to stop the revolving door culture."

The most rewarding aspect of rehousing homeless people is 'seeing their faces light up' when they view their new home, says Ms Hughes.

"Some tenants break down when they see the property for the first time," she said.

"It's incredibly emotional for them and us.

"I don't think we realise the enormity of what we're doing - we're changing lives."