Dreams

A house by a stream in a wood.
A family loving and good.
A life where money isn’t the theme,
A world where peace isn’t a dream.

Words on a page in a book,
Pictures on a wall  where I can look.
Music running through my head,
Tummies all warm and fed.

Dreams of a world that won’t ever exist.
Entries at the end of a list.
Was I wrong to bother to dream?
About a house in a wood by a stream.

Copyright  – Mandy Ward, September 2016

Homelessness is no joke.

Warning – this is a long one and is probably going to sound a lot like a Self Pity Party. If you are allergic to such things, don’t read on.

I’m sure you’ve all heard of or read the stories in the papers. If you put “Homeless Mother Headlines” into Google,  you will get a whole slew of articles pop up at you… usually about how a Mother who hit the headlines in some way is now homeless or how a Mother will do something extraordinary in order to avoid her children being homeless.

The usual reaction is of pity and if the person reading it has the money and the Mother has a crowdfunding site then said mother may get a donation.
I’ve sat and listened to / read discussions (online and off) about such stories. They start out with pity and eventually morph into blame. From “How could someone do something like that to a family?” to “What has that woman done about it? Why hasn’t she moved or taken the landlord to court or done something?”
People would joke about them, as if they were something that had been made up for them to laugh about.

They never consider that it could happen to them.

At one point I was one of them.  I never went as far as blaming the women in the stories because having grown up on the Breadline, I knew how fast life could change, but I honestly never thought I would ever be homeless.

I’ve been saving up to move for a long while because we’d come to the conclusion that our children, two of whom have Aspergers / High Functioning Autism, needed to have a room each (there’s a very real need for a cave / safe space  to call your own when you’re Autistic) and we needed to have enough money saved to be able to pay for a private rental – Agency fees, Deposit, Pet Deposit and at least two months rent – plus a van and boxes etc.

I started a Gofundme campaign because my overseas friends wanted to help us. I never expected to get much. It was just a way to have friends help. The money from my Book Sales has been going into the account that the campaign pays into as well – every little helps, as Tesco always says!

But that was a couple of years back and because of various household emergencies we had to use some of that money. Still, we had a roof over our head and moving wasn’t urgent.

However… fast forward to this year…

We knew something would happen when the mental health charity helping us sent the Environmental Health Officer in to inspect the fungus and damp we had found. We had had inklings for a long while that our Landlord wasn’t as good as we thought they were, but we put up with it because we had nowhere else to go yet.

So it wasn’t much of a surprise when we were served with a Section 21: Notice to quit at the end of July.  Their reason was that they want to sell the house.  That’s fair,  it’s their property and the S21 gives you two months to find a new place to live.

Yes, you read it right. The Landlord gave us our notice right at the beginning of the summer holidays for the kids. And they spent every weekend of those holidays, fixing up the house to sell.

So with the charity’s guidance and help, we did what we were supposed to do. We got ourselves on the local Social Housing List and started looking for a new home. For every private rental we went to see, we got more stressed. Social Housing in our area is a wash out – there isn’t a lot of it because most of it was sold off during the “Right to buy” frenzy – but we kept an eye on that as well.

The whole time, we kept our children’s home life stable. We packed up minimally because for every box we taped up, we had an equivalent storage problem. We also had to deal with increasingly uneasy children who could see their lives being packed up around them.

Every weekend, we had the landlord here working on the house and asking us- “when are you moving?” , “Have you found a house yet?”, “how can we help speed up the process?” and other helpful questions.

My mental state has been deteriorating. I’ve gone back onto Antidepressants and I’m having regular anxiety and panic attacks. But I’ve still kept it more or less together in front of my children and coped with my fiance’s worsening health (the back pain is getting worse and nothing is helping) as well as trying my best to promote my work, write new stories to publish and get as much money coming into the house as possible.

Various friends have suggested that I go to the press, that I out the Landlords for being less than adequate at managing their property. I can’t do that to them.

Correction.

I can’t do that to their children. If they were childless, then I possibly would, but their sons don’t deserve to have that kind of nastiness happen to them. They are innocent.

Just like mine are.

About two weeks ago the Landlord offered an extension to the contract. It would have put the rent up, but we adults would have gone without food to be able to pay it… but on advice from a housing charity,  we pointed out that we didn’t think the property was worth that much and suggested a lower amount, hoping that they would negotiate and we’d end up on the same amount that we have been paying.
Nope.
They insisted that the amount they had said was fair and that if we wouldn’t take that first time, they would withdraw the offer.
The charity caseworker  felt that our situation would mean that we could  get a discretionary grant from the council to pay for the raised rent.

However… I now have the form to apply for the grant.
But the Landlord is still asking “for confirmation when we will be handing over the keys.”… actually the latest email said something more like “Please give us a time when you will be handing over the keys on the 30th Sept and vacating the property.”

So… we are seven days from being Officially Homeless.

And I am very close to the end of my mental strength.

I didn’t want to do this.

I’ve only ever posted the campaign on my Facebook pages – usually with the comment that “if you can’t help financially, then please share the link in the hope that someone else will be able to.”

Or “if you want to help, but feel you need to get something out of it in return, that you could buy my books and the money will go into the fund”, the way it has been for the last few years.

I have pared my outgoings down to the essentials only. I have stopped giving my children pocket money and paying for outings (other than school ones) or sweets and toys. I have cancelled my own charity payments (not that it was a lot) and all of that money has been going into the account I am using for the moving fund.

To be able to get a Private Rent, no questions asked, I need the money to be able to move and a Guarantor. So far, amongst my immediate family I have not been able to find a Guarantor.  No one has been willing or able to take that risk, even for me.

I have seven days to find a home for my children. I am now desperate.

So this is the link to the Moving Fund:

https://www.gofundme.com/edkgfk

Please help us. However you can do it, please help. It doesn’t have to be much, it all builds up.

This is the link to my Amazon Author Page:

https://www.amazon.co.uk/-/e/B004UKPFQA

If you can’t help us directly, please buy a book; I link to Amazon because the money gets to me the fastest, but remember that my books are also available on iBooks and Nook and Smashwords – just search for Kira Morgana or A.E. Churchyard

If you can’t do either of those, share either link around through your social networks – maybe someone out there will be able to.

Please.