A WOMAN with cancer whose son had to sleep in a van when they moved into her elderly mother's bungalow has been given a new council home.

"I can't tell you how much this is going to change my life," says Paula as she looks round her new home for the first time after it had been renovated by Stroud District Council - a moment captured in a BBC documentary that aired yesterday morning.

Paula and her son, Daniel, feature in The Empty Housing Scandal, a new series from the broadcaster that explores the problem of empty properties in the UK despite the housing crisis.

There are over 1,300 households in Gloucestershire and West Oxfordshire classified as having serious housing needs - and the number of empty homes in private and public ownership in the Stroud district nearly matches that at 1,200.

As presenter Matt Allwright explains, Paula and Daniel are a case in point, having moved into her mother's house after her father passed away to help her through her grief.

Because the bungalow is one-bed, Paula had to convert the dining room while Daniel lived out of a van parked on the drive.

"Literally just enough room for a bed. It gets very cold as well - and no windows," Daniel says to the cameraman as he shows his bed squeezed into the back of the van.

"It starts your day off feeling kind of bad when you wake up like this."

Paula faced equally cramped living arrangements in the dining room - and then she got ill.

"Unfortunately I found out I had cancer of the appendix," she recalls in her mum's dining room, which has her bed with all of her belongings piled around.

"So I've had two major operations and I'm currently halfway through my chemotherapy treatment.

"I've literally spent the last six months on or off in this bed."

But thanks to Stroud District Council, Paula and Daniel now have their own home - and bedrooms.

In the show they are shown around by the council's neighbourhood management officer Jason Boulter, who explains the work done by the council.

"It's a fairly old property, I would say probably from the 1930s or 40s," he says.

Stroud News and Journal:

Jason being filmed by the BBC. Photo credit: SDC

"The previous tenant had been there quite some time, so it needed quite a bit of modernisation and it's our job to turn it around as quickly as possible so people have a home."

As Paula takes a tour, her face lights up, and when she enters the back garden she tells Jason: "I haven't had my own outside space for so long.

"Because of my illness and my treatment in bed for the last six months on and off.

"From being in bed and not doing much, now I've got this enormous space. Thank you so much!"

Watch the moment Paula and Daniel get to see their new home here: bbc.in/2E6KCNL

Their segment starts at about 19.40 minutes in.