‘Homelessness does not just happen to vulnerable people’

homeless 300x225 Homelessness does not just happen to vulnerable people

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If someone had told me last Christmas that my two-year-old son and I would be a Statutory Homeless and our home would be repossessed by Christmas 2012, I would’ve laughed in total disbelief and wished them a merry Christmas.

Homelessness was not something I had previously given much thought to.  Like most people, I bought The Big Issue when I could and like most, very often I sadly walked on by. But homelessness does not just happen to vulnerable people in society. As I have found out for myself, if you’re unfortunate enough to have your circumstances collude against you, homelessness can happen to absolutely anyone.

Most disturbingly, this Christmas will see 75,000 children in the UK without a permanent home.  Just imagine for a moment what that must be truly like for those children and their parents.  I know what it’s like to face that with a young child.  It’s beyond words. It’s beyond fear.

My home was more than just a house. I put everything I had into it and, as both my parents have passed away, this was the centre of my world.  As the owner of successful international events company and tired of expensive London rents, my ex-partner and I bought our cottage in 2007. Foolishly on my part, the mortgage was only in my name.  Although we signed a Trust Deed to formalise the share of ownership, it sadly did not share the liability.

Within the last 4 years, I’d survived my brother’s sudden death, become pregnant (complicated by hyperemesis gravidarum), watched my 10 year old company being sucked into the recession and finally filing for bankruptcy; going from being an independent full time business woman to a dependent full time mother at 38.  Along with these seismic changes and having the financial supporting roles reversed, our increasingly untenable 11 year relationship didn’t survive and in February 2012, I became the mainstream media’s folk devil du jour: Single Mum on Benefits.

I did not get here by choice and nor do I intend to stay for long but with no family to help with childcare and living in rural Suffolk, my current options have been extremely limited. I have not however resigned myself to watching daytime TV.  In the last 2 years I have completed a City & Guilds in Floristry and am currently studying at the Open University.

In these last 10 months, I’ve been profoundly humbled by the love and unwavering support I’ve received by a handful of friends and a few relative strangers without which, and along with the incredible support from Shelter, I dread to think what our journey would have become.  Equally I’ve been amazed by those whom I thought would stand by me and my son through a difficult patch in our lives, but in fact have all but walked away. Losing your home is a strange concept as most people who have no idea how devastating it is. It’s like a death in a way; some people find it too overwhelming to deal with and do nothing as a result.

May was the month I was able to receive Support For Mortgage Interest, after the 13 week wait by which time the arrears on the mortgage were stacking up. The mortgage company seemed helpful at first as they promised no ‘extra’ charges on my account for a few months but soon after, they increased my mortgage interest by half a percent. SMI was originally set at 6% but this government reduced the cap to 3.75%.  My mortgage is 5.75% and my son and I are losing our home for less than £5,000 worth of arrears after paying over £80,000 into our home over the last five years, until February.

Whilst we read about the many affected by the Housing Benefit caps, how many families who have lost their jobs or partners and are now losing their homes too as a result of the SMI cap?  My mortgage company continues to surprise and outrage me in equal measures. Today they told me that after I’ve been evicted on 4 December, they will still be charging me monthly interest until my house is sold.  I am speechless.

As my Eviction date loomed large, I was offered a house by the council. I suspect this is largely due to me being in rural Suffolk.  I realise that other Statutory Homeless families in towns and cities across the UK are not so lucky and my heart truly goes out to them.  Until you have been in this situation or have spent some time with people who have, most people have no idea how utterly horrific and paralysing it is to lose something that is often taken for granted; the security and safety of your home.

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  • mercury51

    i meant beliefs about politics or beliefs generally.

  • mercury51

    not a shred of evidence is advanced in that hysterical tantrum full of sweeping assertions. a classic example of sleep. you are one arrogant puppy.

  • mercury51

    elf=fairy=queer? oh bad luck.

  • bernadine lawrence

    Actually it’s not thousands of families, but hundreds of thousands of families up and down the UK. I know it’s unbelievable but it’s true! And you can carry on behaving like an ostrich – you obviously don’t care a fig.

    Thousands have already been made homeless and some have already died on the streets this winter. Back in the 60’s Ken Loach did a Charles Dickens with his film CATHY COME HOME and prompted the conscience of a nation.

    Sadly I think people’s hearts are so cold now that they are dead to any semblance of compassion.

  • mercury51

    you’re rambling with bare assertions not backed by any reasoning, or, in short, having a tantrum.

  • mercury51

    is the reasoning cupboard bare?
    clearly .

  • bernadine lawrence

    Poor old you! There there. You are totally in denial aren’t you? Never mind. One doesn’t have to be a saint to have compassion for one’s fellow being. Never mind, you’ll get over it one day. One hopes.

  • Bernadette Bowles

    The reasoning was, I think, that in the brave new future everyone would be able to own their own home and there would be no further need for social housing. It hasn’t quite worked out like this, like every other recent government she was guilty of believing her own rhetoric. However there is no denying that this country is crowded beyond what our own resources can cope with; most of them are in the wrong place – the South-East, no water, no space on the roads, no room for more housing – and far too many are dependent financially on too few – a result of massive policy failures on the part of successive governments. We cannot start to climb out of this hole until some politician is brave enough to really address the problems endemic in our society – what we’ve got is some very unfair tinkering round the edges and that just won’t do it.

  • Bernadette Bowles

    Is this true – I’ve seen no reference to this? Who will this benefit? Those who are homeless find it harder to get work, their children also do worse at school. This being so, shouldn’t we be doing everything possible to keep people in their homes? I’m not suggesting it’s a good thing to put families in million-pound homes in Central London, but normal homes.

  • mercury51

    very well, fair enough, you were making it up without compassion for the truth. modernists are like that, liars to a man.

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