Saturday, 30 October 2010


I must start packing for my new life.
Clothes, shoes, books, cds, pictures, photos, pots, pans, mugs, television, printer, laptop.
Nico Teen, do I pack my thoughts?
Tomorrow. I'll start packing tomorrow. Or maybe the next day.
I know this though, I do have to pack and liberate that which doesn't serve me well.

Crikey I'm quite hungry.
My goodness, is that the time?

The Old Earth

I have ravaged my body with my mind.
The first step is awareness

A New Earth

I've been so lucky this past week. Instead of waiting in London for a bailiff's order, I could take my son and escape, escape for seven whole days.

My brother who lives abroad had come over with his family and with my own parents away, we all stayed in their house.

Unparalled joy from my son, it's been three years since he's seen his cousins. My sister in law said she'd look after him if I had to come back to London and I did feel a pull. Wednesday morning after lying in following a sleepless night thinking of everything I had to do here, my son said:

"It's so peaceful without you mummy. Sorry...." I smiled at him.

There was no phone call inviting me to view a property so after deliberating with Nico Teen for a long procrastinating moment, I picked up a book.

Eckhart Tolle.

The personal and collective ego, personal and collective unconciousness, ourselves and our planet.

Housing was in the news, and I, totally identified with it, struggled to escape myself, woh, bored my family rigid I'd say, even had an argy bargy with my brother when he realised how much I got "paid" a year.

I found some comfort though, as Cameron announced he would not be doing a u-turn on his new housing policies:

"You will be free to let go of your unhappiness the moment you recognise it as unintelligent. Negativity is not intelligent. It is always of the ego (the mind). The ego maybe clever, but it is not intelligent. Cleverness pursues its own little aims. Intelligence sees the larger whole in which all things are connected. Cleverness is motivated by self-interest, and it is extremely short-sighted. Most politicians and businesspeople are clever. Very few are intelligent. Whatever is attained through cleverness is short-lived and always turns out to be self defeating. Cleverness divides; intelligence includes." (A New Earth, page 112)

My brother understood my position. He told me to write about it if I couldn't let it go. He told me to take out "me". "There's no power in "me", there's no scope for change with "me". People will attack you because it's easier than looking at the bigger issue. Write about the issues, take out the "me"."

Woh bro! You read the book?!

There may be hope. I just have to get over myself first.
As for you stiggers, I need you to show me the way...

Friday, 22 October 2010

Cainer has extraordinary powers

Perhaps there are some friends or relatives that you only see once a year. Currently, they are far away. If you try to think about them, you can't remember very much detail. But when you see them again, it will all come flooding back to you. The information is not on the desktop of your mind; it is compressed and stored in the back-up hard drive of your brain. When you need it, you can have it. You currently doubt your ability to handle a situation that may arise this weekend. While it is actually happening, it will be fine.

This morning I wasn't going to go to my nephew's christening but now I've been told I won't get a bailiff's order through the post I'm going to take the risk and go. My son's cousins will be there, we might be invited to stay.

Good for my son, even though I feel impelled to stay here, you know, in case something happens, so I'll play it all by ear.

Tis true Cainer, I rarely see them. Nothing like a baby to bring a family back together. Thanks for telling me it'll be fine.

Stigs, I leave housing with you. At least, I hope I leave it with you as politics and housing pretty much dominate my mind at the moment.

Oh I so need to sleeeeeeeeeeep, my eyelids close on this post, and my dreams I hope will take me somewhere nice.

Repeat after me:
I am a millionaire
I am a millionaire
I am a multi millionaire
(Law of Attraction...)

Secure, affordable rented accommodation Haiku

Dreams and hopes of gold
sold by the coalition
laughing at our pain

Half term with my son
the bailiff's order won't come
To spare me, I'm told

I best get packing
The journey is not over
with new beginnings

"Get packing"

I was about to post a little something on how council's have finally been given autonomy over their boroughs and budgets but the Government's made sure it's got little cash to play with so who to blame when the libraries close down blah blah when there was a knock at the door.

Tommy my Pathmead's housing officer. I wasn't expecting him. He must've written, he always does, just forgot.

He came to tell me I will not be receiving a bailiff's order through the letterbox because they know I can't handle letters when they come through the door.

"So how will I know when I have to get out then? I want to know first."

He said that that the housing association and the council had prioritised my case and unanimously agreed:

"because of your ability to communicate with mass media I can't divulge to you any undertaking in relation to alternative accommodation in Camden."

"Eh? What? I haven't written anything for ages and besides my first priority is to protect and safeguard my son."

I reminded him that I didn't not mention the council in my Guardian piece "because this is a national problem, I couldn't single out what's going on here when other places might be worse and anyway, I love Camden."

He told me they might have found something for us. Because it's temporary it's "likely to be very expensive". There'll be a lease end down the line, will have to keep bidding, but for what anymore?

Oh England, until Wednesday I could hope for permanence, for security, a life off benefits if I got a decent job.

"The bottom line is," I said with my tear duct drought, "if I don't take this place we'll be put in a hostel?"

"You want to go into a hostel?"

"Me? No, no way."

"Some people are lucky if they go into a hostel, many are put straight to the private sector. Your points get bumped up in a hostel, no?"

"I don't think so," I stuttered and only remembered after he'd gone the child deputy told me about, older than my child, who's been in a hostel all his life, whose mother has been offered temporary and hasn't taken it.

As he left he told me to call him in 10 to 14 days. He told me to "get packing". I said I couldn't until I knew where I was going. He said "please."

I surrender. My second battle to get my child into a council flat and I've lost.

Council accommodation has been stripped from England it would seem and housing is being handed over to 'social landlords.'

I am lucky, you might say, that the housing association will put a roof over our heads. I'll be grateful if it's near my son's school.

My future question therefore to the powers that are breaking my country will have to be:

"Am I the last "unemployed" single mother ever to get helped with housing?"


Community school wins geography Gold!

Yup, that's right! My son's school has won the country's gold award for Geography. They're celebrating it today.

Education ring fenced, so my son's school will be ok...surely.

My son's school is a 'Labour success', though at the Tory conference they pedalled out a teacher who has since been sacked from her own school for 'exposing broken education'.

I have a question.

Funding for schools will increase.

Is this to get the 'free schools' up and running? You know, in places like Surrey (Question Time last night, a tax avoiding Tory's constituency)

Head was preparing for cuts at this morning Governer's meeting. The brass bands may have to go, giving 120 children a year the opportunity to learn a musical instrument for free.
Staff may have to be cut.

"We'll have to wait and see," he said. "The devil's in the detail."

The devil indeed..

Quoting the unquotable

"Registered social landlords tell us that what would be the greatest catalyst for them to build homes is to allow rents for new tenants to drift up to something like 80% of market rents. They say that would give them the guaranteed revenue stream in order to invest to build new homes. People on low pay on those new rents will be compensated in full through housing benefit." Nick Clegg (Guardian online 22 Oct)

Social Housing
Biggest shakeup in decades 'will hit most vulnerable' ( Guardian 21 Oct, p 7 of it's CSR pull out)

"Cuts on this scale will come as a devastating blow to the millions of low-income families currently stuck on housing waiting lists." David Orr, chief executive of the National Housing Association.

"65% of social housing tenants are on benefits. So new tenants need to be better off than current ones, otherwise rent increases will simply add to the benefits fall." Richard Parker, head of housing at consultants Pwc.

Mr Parker, are you telling me I'm fucked?

"Overall families with children seem to be the biggest losers." James Browne, IFS analyst.

"Nick Clegg accuses IFS of 'distorted nonsense'" (Guardian headline 22 Oct)

Mr Clegg, I wish you'd told me I'd be fucked back in February when I asked for your help.

I'm tempted to accuse you of the same thing.

Thursday, 21 October 2010

Morning Has Broken

Stand with me a minute, looking out on the blue sky of this morning, green leaves blowing in the breeze.

Cat Steven's Morning Has Broken is on the stereo, at high volume.

This is not the coalition calling, it's me.

Morning has broken, like the first morning
Blackbird has spoken, like the first bird
Praise for the singing, praise for the morning
Praise for the springing fresh from the word

Sweet the rain's new fall, sunlit from heaven
Like the first dewfall, on the first grass
Praise for the sweetness of the wet garden
Sprung in completeness where his feet pass

Mine is the sunlight, mine is the morning
Born of the one light, Eden saw play
Praise with elation, praise every morning
God's recreation of the new day

You must survive.

If you still think you can't, play the song again
and again
and again
and again
and again
and again
and again
and again

until you know in your heart
these politics are not the end
not the end of you

Beggars cannot be choosers

Oh I know I said I wouldn't write or think about housing for a while, that most depressing of issues, but it's Thursday isn't it? Bidding day. Cast your eye over these properties, if there is an image and, well, hope for the best, though better not to hope at all in my experience.

Seven properties up for grabs this morning. West Hampstead may be a nice place to live but it's too far from his school. Regents Park ditto. Hampstead Town he can just about cycle. It's a giant great big hill he'd have to pedal up to get home but it is the closest so it's a quick pedal down to his classroom.

I do not want to be a beggar, although a beggar is what this system wants to make of me. I want to choose what's best for my child. The cost of that is so frightening I cannot tell you.

Let's just say I didn't care for or about my child, and bid willy nilly for anything and everything. The coalition has driven a wedge into all of that this morning.

None of them are now secure.
All of them have short five year tenancies.
Low wages may ensure that we stay there, unable, as consequence, to provide for his uni costs, my pension but then
Rents are going to rise on them resulting in arrears and eviction if my wages are low, but the same inability to provide if they aren't.

I want Thursday mornings as I know them to be over.

I'm Peter Gabriel, I can't take it anymore.

With secure, state accommodation now a thing of history, there is only one avenue to stable, affordable housing.


Housing - the biggest loser

A 51% cut in spending for social housing showing a negative change in projects by 74% by 2015
Secure tenancies abolished
Rents rising to 80% of market share

This is so awful, so damaging, so terrible I can't get my head around it just now.

The biggest winner?
International Development - a rise in spending of 38% showing a positive change in projects by 20% by 2015.
(Evening Standard -20th Oct, p4)

Charity begins at Home?

Not if you're a multi-millionaire cabinet it would seem.

My son speaks to the cameras

"Why have you come along to the march?"
"I don't want to move from my school because I've got a good education and I don't want to be sleeping in the same room as my mummy every night."
"How old are you?"

Children may be young but they know their own minds.

We were there in body and soul!

"Baby, we're going to the protest!" I tell my son as I pick him up from school.
"Nooo mummy," he replies.
"Your old friends are going!"
"No, no, noooo, pleeeease."
"I've bought some flapjacks..."
"Oh ok then!" he beams, doesn't dither about getting home to change into warmer clothes.

Met Mary and her three at Kentish Town tube. My boy and her eldest rebonding with the same ease that they bonded in the first place back in 2003.

At Lincolns Inn the crowd had formed and the memory of the Big Issue's charity walk came back - here was the spot we'd been given sparklers marking the nth mile that night!

I saw Local Labour councillor and Dad in the Playground who leads the council. I wanted to go over, tap him on the shoulder, tell him my eviction was imminent. Do something. I held back, there was no room for my frustration with a man who was at this moment on my side.

As we marched, banners in hand, chanting, Mary and I having met the others and constantly accounting for our eight children, people returning from work stopped and stared at us from the other side of the road. People on the top deck of buses took photos, others on the bottom waved and smiled.

We positioned ourselves next to the Downing Street entrance and fed the children. The police double backed pushing the crowd. It looked as though they were inciting violence as they cocooned the protesters but as Jab pointed out, they were moving them along to let the traffic pass on our side of the road.

Someone threw a flare towards No 10 but no-one charged the barricades, as one man had warned us, slow close our kids were to the police lining the Gates of Treachery.

Speeches to the empowerment of the people, our working rights. The protection of our National Health Service, slowly being infiltrated by Private competitors. Housing and the thousands that will be made homeless. Cheers and claps for these voices that articulate our fears and desires.

Many, many thanks goes to Caroline Lucas MP. The Green Party leader was the only front bench MP to come out of the commons and vocally empathise with us.

We took the bus home, the children still waving their NUT flags.

For you children, we want change for you, to safeguard you from the cradle to the grave.

I'd been listening to Kaiser Chiefs earlier. They predict a riot. I do predict one too, but this protest was pregnant with hope.

It's not too late for positive change.


Wednesday, 20 October 2010

Fair's FAIR

Sourced from facebook friends who read the papers:

1.2 bn: annual cost of benefit fraud
40bn: annual cost of tax avoidance

Banks will avoid paying £19bn on tax of future profits by offsetting their losses against (your) tax.

6bn: Tax avoided by Vodafone after negociating with Inland Revenue
2bn: Amount 15 million tax paying individuals must pay (averaging £1500 each) after Inland Revenue mistakenly over charged them last year.

4bn: Estimated value of retail tycoon (Topshop owner) and Government "waste tsar" Sir Philip and Lady Green's collective assets.
40p: Average hourly wage paid to Topshop workers in Sri Lankan sweat shops

The opportunities of Disaster Capitalism the Tories have been waiting for:

23 milionaires out of 29 in our cabinet of 'we're all in it together' slash and burn politicians.

It's clearly stiggers desire to depress you this morning....

Keep Calm And Carry On

This is for Jen over at the Cigarette Diaries
For you too
And me
Oh and repeat after me:
I am a millionaire
I am a millionaire

Now Panic And Freak Out

The coalition's Comprehensive Spending Review today.

My (red) Keep Calm And Carry On mug was still dirty from yesterday so I had to pour my still hot (discounted, thank you!) double expresso into my (blue) Now Panic and Freak Out mug (both a gift from my old Shit School Acquaintance).

I couldn't sit staring at the blue mug so I put the red mug next to it.

The political colour of these mugs has not escaped me.


If a billionaire was to give one million pounds to each person in the country, he or she would still have millions of pounds left over.

Repeat after me:
I am a millionaire
I am a millionaire
I am a millionaire

I am with you in spirit

A protest march against Government cuts this afternoon from Lincolns Inn Field to Whitehall. Everyone is assembling at 4.30pm.

"Shall we go?" I say to son.
"No, I don't like marching," he replies. "Let's watch it on the TV."

We live in a mini democracy in our little flat. He's only won this vote because Lincolns Inn Fields is a bugger to get to from here.

Number Crunching

Families on benefits

All: 5,917,560
No kids: 2,482,830
1 child: 611,120
2 kids: 401,540
3 kids: 184,750
4 kids: 70,740
5 kids: 22,760
6 kids: 7,510
7 kids: 2,520
8+ kids: 1,050

(Daily Telegraph, Friday 8th October,p.4)

The article does not state if these numbers include families who are working but are in receipt of housing benefit.

I'm not one of those but mum of one upstairs is, though she's just had her £98 housing benefit a week cut because she earns £430 a month.

Cuts delivered by the Cabinet

Did you know, for I didn't before the Sunday Telegraph informed me, that of the 29 members in the cabinet, 23 of them are millionaires?

Yes, as they wield the axe, they will not get hurt at all.

More galling perhaps, if you don't find that galling, is that the security, minders, bodyguards they need to protect them from the new wave of burglars and muggers we will see, are paid from the purse of the 'squeezed middle', the 'working poor', you and me.

Repeat after me:
I am a millionaire
I am a millionaire
I am a millionaire

(Law of Attraction... You have any better suggestions?)

Tuesday, 19 October 2010

Horoscopes on my wavelength

I've been thinking recently. The Law of Attraction works if you visualise what you want and think or verbalise your request in the present tense, like you've already got it (I've read).

Praying on the other hand, you're on your knees (or on your back in bed or sitting on Hampstead Heath) asking for what you want.

If you ask for what you want with the law of attraction, it's said that you will keep on wanting.

Anyway, recently, I got confused about it all and ended up trying to visualise light to counteract the darkness in my mind.

Closer online astrology knows I've been tussling with this. Must do, for this morning, they sent me this:

Astro theme for the day . . .Moon Meditation: “Connecting with the Divine…” Moon in Pisces: Have you forgotten how to pray? These days, with the Law of Attraction so big and so many people turned off God by the church’s shenanigans, prayer is no longer really in style. Do you feel switched off by prayer? It’s true that praying for something over and over again is a dangerous thing – if we’re focusing on what we don’t have in repetitive prayer, then the LOA states we will have even less of it! However, as the brilliant Doreen Virtue (who I quoted extensively last week) wrote “Do not chase anything, but instead, ask and be open to receiving.” This is very apt today as the Sun connects with divine Neptune.

Tough for me not to chase. Tough tough tough. After today though, I think I have to sit still. At the very least take my mind off housing, for there's nothing more I can do about that for I've done it all already.


Put forward to the exceptions panel!

A call while I'm out, having posted my letter and now seeing my lovely friend Jo, one of a handful of beautiful friends able to take my weight.

It's my son's new social worker on the phone (is he? My son's new social worker? I don't know. He is a social worker though).

"I've heard you've been given the eviction order," he says.

"Yes," I reply, but only from the housing association, not the bailiff, though I don't say that.

He tells me our case has been taken to the exceptions panel! This news, if ever I could be given news, is good. I only hope it's not too late.

He asks if it's ok if he's arranges the three way meeting with my doc. Has to be really. He says come the new year he wants me and my son to be settled and me to be"happy". He has a cheerful tone on the phone. I remember him from the transfer meeting, quite big, broad shoulders...

"What does it mean?" asks Jo afterwards.
"Oh crikey! More points! Maybe they'll place us somewhere permanent!" (Nice I hope, if that happens. Happened to mum upstairs and there were wires coming out of the walls when she moved in, mould around the window frames)

"Oh Jo!" I exclaim again, so blown away by the coincidence. "It's the universe! It's like I've sent something good out, via the housing minister, so it's sent me something good back, via a social worker!"

I hug my friend. Hug her tight with all my hopes and dreams. She can take it, why I love her sooooo much!

I have to keep hoping keep hoping keep hoping.
Keep believing keep believing keep believing.
Keep hoping believing hoping believing hoping believing.
I must have faith.

Doing something with depression, desire and fear

Papier Mache Towers,
19 October 2010

Dear [Minister for Housing],

When you have a moment, I would like to meet you. I received a letter from Downing Street in August, which I have enclosed with this letter, suggesting I contact you. You would, it said, be interested in what I have to say.

To be honest, it has taken me a while to write because my son and I are awaiting eviction from our temporary accommodation. Will your response come when we have moved? Will I ever receive it?

Soon, I do not know how soon, very soon, a bailiff’s order will fall through my letter box. The housing association has written to me instructing me it has made its application to the courts.

The local council will not make us homeless but where will it put us? I imagine the bailiff to be a man, strong with broad shoulders, who, should I resist what the council deems suitable for my child, will pick me up and eject me from our home, throwing out my son and our belongings behind us with ease.

I completed a Masters degree a few years ago and wrote my thesis on homeless families. Their stories fuel my fear.

I’d like to meet you however, not for you to help my child, but to understand the society I live in. Cutting housing benefits, abolishing secure tenancies, I fear the coalition is breaking our country at its very foundations.

I have campaigned on behalf of my child for more than 20 months. Allow me to share with you what I have learnt.

I look forward to hearing from you.

Kind regards

Sue de Nim

P.S. The above address is not fixed. You can contact me [by email or by mobile phone]. Wherever my son and I go, these will come with us.

Usually I wait to post my letters on blogspot but today, fuck it. Going out will do me some good, and for the purpose of a stamp, hopefully my small family, and perhaps yours, too.

To write or not to write

Handwritten letters, typed letters, emails and texts. I wake up each morning in this limbo wondering what more can I do to safeguard my son's future, to safeguard my own?

Running parallel, what can I do to make policy makers see my society? Do; I have to do something.

Write, write, so motivated to write, then crushed beneath the weight of my own emotions, I ask myself what's the point. No-one hears me.

I have to be bothered. I have to act. To stay on top of my emotions and not fall into that great abyss of fire, where the skin is numb and the soul is so unbearably


I have to do something.

Playdates for my son?

Dear Housing Division,

Yesterday afternoon I invited one of my son's school friends to play on Thursday. His mum said he was 'busy', how about 'after half term?'

I stumbled on my emotions, yet again. "Yeah, sure, but I er, don't know where we'll be living then."

Momentarily she stood in my boots, you could see it in her features, and she said: "It'll be alright."

I crossed my fingers tight like the National Lottery symbol, grinned a mighty smile, and shook them in the air. "Yes, yes it will be!"

Oh the pretence. I can't pretend. She texted me later saying she'd try and rearrange her child's activities so he could come and play. She signed it 'Lots of love," and I sent her back 'a big hug'.

Our next home, Housing Division, where will you put us? Will the flat be a good size or a cell? Will my son be close to his school, close to his friends? I so want his social life to take off, to invite a friend or friends, disappear into his own room, his own den, to entertain them. Have film nights now and again. I want him to feel the joy of receiving in order to give, to entertain.

I know my options, my choices, but only you, Housing Division, can offer my child what he needs. You and Camelot.

Don't make an example of me, make one only of my child, of what you yourselves want for our country's children, while I try and go out and get that.

I'm helping you, I am, I'm bidding. You know that, I know.

Praying for a miracle,

Kind regards,

Sue de Nim

Didn't send it. What's the point? Is there a point?

Monday, 18 October 2010

The morning after the weekend before....

Free cds with the Sunday Telegraph and the Mail on Sunday this weekend. Time to listen but no time to read.

I cast an eye over my kitchen. It looks like a big job. In the great scheme of things it's not though. It's so teeny weeny how can it be.

So, I have a dilemma.


Weekend telly

"You always find men in kitchens at parties! You always find men in Kitchens at partieees!"

A catchy tune, a cool ad, young thangs bopping with cocktails in hand having a wicked time.

Not MFI, Ikea! Within reach! Within reach?

My son has a friend whose kitchen is bigger than our entire flat.

I begin the day on a dream..........

Weekend coincidences

Subject: You, me and John Bird

Hi [Network Founder],

I usually ask people if it's ok to call them by their first name but I didn't even look at yours as I stuffed your business card in my pocket thinking 'must think about this one' when I met you on Saturday in Kentish Town.

I let go of ever meeting John Bird last year which didn't stop me inwardly cringeing when I saw a charity walk in the Big Issue magazine, thinking he might think I was trying to curry favour with him if I did it. Fortunately I soon got over myself and had a great night!

You saying you had lunch with him on Friday and offering to arrange another including me was, well, quite unexpected to say the least.

I told you I wasn't sure I had anything to say or ask him anymore but I could be wrong.

I would welcome to have lunch with you both if you both agree.

Let me know (as I listen to Rod Steward's "Sailing", free with the (e)Mail on Sunday this morning!) One must follow coincidences now and then for you never know what positive things might come out of them.

Kind regards,

Sue de Nim

Political parties were out in force Saturday morning canvassing for a by-election in a couple of weeks time.

As I walked over to the Tory table for some bumph I said: "I am totally opposed to your party!"

Quite extraordinary what can come out of saying something like that.....

Network Founder asked me what I thought of the coalition and I said "I don't know."

I Don't Know?

You get the email I sent because I just can't tell a story any more...I'n't that right Doris?

Weekend laughs

Sitting watching X Factor.

"Mummy? Don't you think Diva Fever looks like David and Ed Miliband?"

I start to laugh, right from the pit of my belly, a veritable quake.

"What's so funny mummy?"

A noise emits from me not dissimilar to Jimmy Carr's.

"Don't you think so mummy? Diva Fever are David and Ed Miliband?!" He starts to laugh too and in our mirth comments on the two band members in their lurid flourescent shorts, prancing about the stage.

He wouldn't go to sleep last night until I went into the room and told him who'd been voted out.

"Oh no, David and Ed Miliband are gone," he said crestfallen. "Is it Simon Cowell's fault?"

Friday, 15 October 2010

In for a penny, in for a pound...

Subject: I enjoyed what you had to say on Monday

Dear Reverend,

You saw me last Monday at the housing meeting at the House of Commons. I was standing at the back, stripey top on, raised my hand and said I'd sent a postcard to the coalition. You might remember.

You said what was needed was testimonies, real life testimonies, and brave people to give them. I am not brave. Well, I am not that brave.

If Ed Miliband reads my postcard, I will probably have to explain myself. You heard me, I can't articulate myself verbally that well! Still, if it happens, it happens, I've literally put all that in God's hands.

I wrote to Ed Miliband and said that if he was to read out the copy of the postcard I sent during Prime Minister's Questions, or any other such time, I would sit in the lobby so if the coalition laughs and jeers at him, he can say I'm just outside and they can laugh and jeer at me instead. Highly unpleasant but I sent that postcard and I take responsibility for it.

Should Mr Miliband read my postcard, and informs me to wait in the lobby, will you wait with me?

It's a big ask I know but although I encapsulate the housing problem, it's a national one and I only really know what's going on in my own borough, in my own life. I send you the link to an article I wrote, to give you a clearer picture. I also wrote a piece for the Guardian website.

I'd be happy to meet you if you have time. I'm not asking your help for me, I'm asking your help for everyone else.

Kind regards,

Sue de Nim

Having faith

Who would be a guardian angel? Even in heaven, where there is nothing very much to do and the whole of eternity not to do it in, souls don't exactly queue up for the job. There aren't enough tea breaks and you don't even get Sundays off. You just have to hover over a human and try to steer them away from the worst consequences of the endless problems that they keep creating for themselves. If you fail, you are blamed. If you succeed, they give you no credit. Your angel is working hard for you this weekend. Say thanks! (Jonathan Cainer horoscopes)

Show me how...

Your ruler Mercury is headed for a luscious link to Neptune today and over the weekend which means that even [those] who’ve been feeling very tossed around on life’s seas should start to feel as though their little raft has arrived on smoother waters. You could find that today and the next few days of the weekend actually inspire you and give you a glimpse of a better way that life could be. Enjoy the feeling and take some notes. If you can believe it, you can achieve it, that’s for sure. (Closer Online Astrology)

Voting ads on the telly...that's me

Do you remember it, before the election, the tv ad telling people to vote?

The woman, with a dog? walking to the polling station and just as she approaches it she's thrown back by an invisible transparent screen.

She pushes against it, presses her body to it, but she can't get through to the other side.

That's how I feel with my son. I've written and I've written and I've spoken to councillors and weekly for years I've bidded for any flat, any tower, any secure place to live and now we're waiting for the bailiffs but banging pushing pressing held back by some invisible wall.

There the other side, a home, and all that represents.

The woman in the ad didn't register, it was a warning to us all.

What exactly haven't I done?

Washing machines

For his third birthday, shortly after we moved in here, my son's father bought him a washing machine.
Where are we going? Into what?
Never mind Zat bike
What will happen to the washing machine?


Texts to my new support worker yesterday. This morning the pressure sitting on my chest. Coooowee tis heavy. Here you go:

Me: I've just had a letter from Pathmeads telling me to expect The bailiffs. I've also bid on 2 properties today. The council can end this horror for me and [my son].

NSW: Sue, please do not get anxious about this, you will not be made homeless with nowhere to go. They have applied for a bailiffs, which can take wks and is part of the process. I have TA on the case looking for a flat. (TA is Temporary Accommodation for those not in the know)

Me: You've never been in my situation, let alone 3 times with a child. Anxiety? Noone has any idea. Permanence is what my small family needs. I'm terrified.

Weeks? How many weeks? I sent an email to the woman I met from Shelter. Who knows, you never know, only so grateful that there is this charity there who I could contact to calm me down a bit.

I picked the boy from school. We filled one bag with toys to throw away and one bag with toys to give away.

To think, I'd been cleaning, yes cleaning, the inside of a kitchen cupboard when the letter came.

I wanted to mention the bailiffs to my son but I didn't. Nor did I cry.

Thursday, 14 October 2010

How kind.... NOT

Just received, this 'routine' crap. Hate the fecking greedy property owner and also seems like the housing association couldn't give a shit. Probably doesn't, because as time and time I've been told this is 'routine'. Anyway, here goes. After I've posted I shall scream jolly loudly then go and pick up my son from school and pretend I've had a fabulous day....

Dear Ms de Nim,

Pathmead's Housing Association obtained a possession order for your home in the Central London County Court on 07 December 2009.
I am writing to advise you that I have asked the Central London County Court to arrange for the Bailiff to evict you from your home. The Court will write to you shortly and notify you of the date for the eviction.
If you are going to be homeless after the eviction you should contact the Local Authority Homeless Persons Unit at London Borough of Camden, Temporary Housing Group, (& address) who may be able to offer advice or assistance.
When you are notified of the eviction date, you must ensure that you clear all your possessions from the property and return the keys to the Bailiff. You will not be allowed back into the property after the eviction.
Yours sincerely

Legal Administrator


Better let new support worker know

Fucking bastard shit crap wank the lot of it

Attempting to make my own luck....

Hi [son's social worker],
Just to say thanks for being [my son's] duty social worker and for mentioning mine and his loving relationship at the meeting yesterday.
I have to say though, because no-one heard me, is that all my 'underlying issues' are to do with housing. All my 'underlying issues' were woken up when I got pregnant and had to move and then since then have been forced to move three times with my son.
You know I was sent to boarding school at 14. The nature of these places is that you have to 'move room' every term, and pack and unpack every holiday. You know I was 'evicted' from the first school and sent to a place more like a borstal afterwards.
They told me stop talking about housing yesterday at the meeting, but I can't, especially right now as me and [my son] await another bailiffs order and his education is most at risk, because the next place won't be secure, so he'll be looking at being evicted again.
Any therapy I have will be about housing, housing, housing and the only way to stop that is for me and my child to be offered a permanent flat.
I'm glad the meeting could see I'm not failing my child in anyway, but they must understand that the system is.
I've bid on two local properties today. A seven year struggle with housing can be over so easily but unfortunately that's up to the council.
Good luck with your future endeavours, it was nice to meet you and know that like me, you are, or were a single mother, and know just how difficult it can be.
Kind regards

It would be so easy to end this....

In the week that I rage (calmly) about a secure home for my child near his school, there are two local properties that I have bid on.
Walk to school properties
That's it, story's over properties
A new chapter can begin properties
Where my son's foundation is secure properties
And I can think about work not debt properties
They are not 'ideal' properties, if you are a millionaire
You know, garden properties
They are 'ideal' properties if you waiting for another bailiffs order properties
One can only imagine properties

The deep, dark woods

A stigmum found a nut in the deep dark woods
Couldn't go over it
Couldn't go under it
She's still going through it...

Knife edges in the deep dark woods

Thanks, it's such a knife edge isn't it. Couldn't trust that a child protection order on [my son] would help either of us, because unfortunately, it would be him needing protection from me, not needing protection from such an unfair system (and I don't care that [New Support Worker] says they are acting 'within the law'.. the law is wrong!)
I hope I put my points across ok. I wish I'd been able to nail a permanent offer for my boy. Next time round I guess...
Many many thanks again, I'll buy you a drink at the next disco!!

My response to the Deputy yesterday after she'd responded to my email saying I "did very well in such a stressful situation."

She'd really backed me up saying I was a major player in the school's PTA and mentioned the discos I always help out with. It'll be a lemonade if she lets me, none of the staff ever do as I do and reach for Al.

I wanted to end the email on a lighter tone, for I'm so not looking forward to the 'next round'.

Maybe there won't be a 'next round'. Maybe there'll be a miracle.

Thirty three Chilean miners survived 69 days down in the bowels of the earth. For 17 days, everyone thought they were dead. Today they are all freeeeeeeeee!!!

Hope can triumph!

I'll keep hoping and praying that a miracle happens for me and my son too in these deep, dark woods.

Wednesday, 13 October 2010

"Who do you have supporting you?"

The social services Leader man asked me:

"Who do you have supporting you?"

It was a tricky question.

"Erm, not counting the school, er..."



I stalled cos of you stiggers. I also think it's a blessing I momentarily forgot that I asked Mary, St Rita, Arch Angel Michael and Angel Cambiel (Power) to come into the room with me.

They were there but I wonder what the response would have been if I'd answered: "God."?

Hmmm, I'll never know!

The Transfer Meeting

We were five men and five women, me included.

"I'm sorry I'm late," I said as I stumbled in, helmet on head. "My son forgot his homework book and luckily we live right near the school so I could drop it off." Didn't mention I couldn't open the email to remind myself of the address so just had to guess....

My master plan was to stay quiet and to speak when spoken to. To listen to everything said against me and my little one. Cluttered flat came up, my son saying "I hate my life" came up, that I did defend a little later saying children say all types of things.

The school nurse, when it was her turn to speak, said that my son had turned up for his check well presented, that his height and weight were at the average percentile for his age group and that he was very kind - there were a number of children being checked that day and he offered his seat to a little girl who didn't have one. Aw, my boy!

I was asked about his anxieties, and not wanting to implicate myself too much, said I didn't know what went on at school but I trusted the school implicitly, they had support structures in place to deal with all childrens' issues, not just mine. I said I was on top of it at home. He didn't know I was depressed (his social worker had said my son was concerned about my depression), but he recognised the rhythms of our situation and dealt with it. Pressed on how, I said he played on his game boy or read his book when I was in quiet mode. "Whenever I get a repossession or a possession notice for example, I go very quiet."

New support worker... wow, every barrel. He said I wanted to commit suicide (thought about it, big difference), that I was accusing the council of discrimination, of being unfair, "writing to the local paper, to the Guardian about it!" He said the council were acting within the law (to which I said the law was wrong) and any way, to cut a long story short, we were told to stop talking about housing!

My mental health they wanted to know about so I told them. "We're not talking about housing anymore," they interrupted.

In short, they asked me how they could help me, and I shrugged. I dunno. (Couldn't say housing anymore than I'd said housing)

Concerned about my mental health, one of the men are going to call my doctor and there will be a three way meeting between us (I did not look over excited at the prospect, relations with my doctor have gone somewhat down hill, particularly since, she too, told me to stop thinking about housing..what fun meeting that will be...)

I'd mentioned writing to everyone including all the prime ministers of the past five years. "What do you think that can do to help you?" asked the Leader man. "Aiming that high, I'm asking them to change things for everybody else."

I held it together in there. Maybe reacting and acting out, making them think I can't cope would have made them put my son on the child protection register which might have helped us get a secure home. Not a risk I was prepared to take though.

Tell you what did facilitate things quite alot though. The Leader man was quite good looking! You know, a kind of inside out handsomeness! "That certainly helped," I said to Deputy!

Apologies for the long post. I just don't want to talk about it anymore today.

Every Parent Matters

Hi [Deputy],
I'd just like to say thank you so very very much for coming to the social service transfer meeting with me. Alone to defend [my son] I might have quite simply lost it, either crying or banging my fists on the table trying to get these professionals to understand how important a secure home near [my son's] school is to me.

That you and the nurse said such brilliant things about him, his progress and his behaviour, I can only hope all these professionals heard it and particularly in regards to our housing impact, took it on board.

They might want me to forget about housing but whether this ends badly or well, I can't. They have told me in no uncertain terms that our next accommodation will not be secure. I am witness to a massive social injustice and unfortunately me and [my son] are part of that. At [your] school, Every Child Matters (to coin a new labour phrase) but sadly, when it comes to housing, not every child does or not every child can.

I can only hope that [my son] isn't greatly affected by the move and with his fragile security in place, well, I'll just have to find a job which enables me to do my little bit in changing the landscape the coalition are hell bent on destroying (I asked [ex New Labour Spin Guy] for tips on how to start up my own political party and he said he'd 'think about it'....who knows what will happen!)

Thanks again for being there for both [my son] and me. It meant and means such alot.

All the best,


Tuesday, 12 October 2010

Deputy to my Sheriff?

School deputy has told me this morning she can come with me to the social services meeting tomorrow, where I'll be transferred to a longer support/tick box team.

I'm relieved, especially if she'll argue the case for my son being near the school.

Social services have called in the whole brigade. I don't know how many social workers will be there or what departments they are from. Housing has been invited, school, and got to be prepared for the Foca too, said Deputy, he'd have been told about it (No word from the Foca on that but last monday failed to show, last friday he picked up son from school and on sunday son's aunt dropped child off so not seen him for ages)

It feels as though I'm going to be infront of the judge and jury tomorrow when really I am going to have to take charge, somehow, without breaking down, getting upset, weeping or wailing or allowing a hint of aggression into my tone.

My son picks up my insecurities, of course he does, he like me is not an android. I can't say that he does though without implicating myself as an unfit fecking mother.

"I'm shitting it," I mouthed to Deputy as I walked out the playground.

Forgot my lighter at home didn't I so I couldn't spark up Nico Teen outside the gates.

I'm telling you, life sucks sometimes.......

The Buy to Let Boom

It made the Channel 4 news last night. Buy to Let has not been affected by the recession. Young people wanting to buy can't because speculators and buyers are hoovering up what's available.

There are people who want homes to live in and people who want homes to make a living from.

One man owns over 40 properties! Didn't feel bad he was denying someone else the chance to buy at all!

People are being forced to rent that what they cannot buy and the demand in urban centres is so high landlords are able to increase their rents. Oh to be a landlord when the cuts come in!

My property owner bought to rent and is party to my eviction because she wants to upgrade it to get a better market rate (from a professional working couple who can't afford to buy their own). She doesn't want a benefits family because that's the council's problem she does not want.

It feels ever so slightly odd to be the country's housing problem.

The country's housing problem in a neat little package.
I deliberately dressed up very smart yesterday. Bit of mascara, bit of lip gloss.
I mean, who can tell?

"Social cleansing"

The committee meeting in the House of Commons yesterday was music to my ears.

To sit in on a meeting about economics - I wouldn't understand
To sit in on a meeting about health and education - I'd struggle.
To sit in on a meeting about housing?
I get it! I got it! I understood every word.

"It might be too strong a word but I'm going to use it anyway," said a councillor from my borough. "Social cleansing is what is happening here."

Yes. The meeting dominated by cuts to housing benefit. Why not put a cap on what landlords charge? asked the priest.

Over half a million families will be made homeless by the coalitions cuts.
Those very families forced into the private sector will be forced out again, forced out of their communities, turning their childrens' education upside down. Ah yes, I'm already there.

"We need brave people to come forward with their testimonies," said the priest. Bravery. My heart began to bang. My right hand went involuntarily to calm it.

They came from all over the country. After Camden said its piece, Winchester spoke, Norwich spoke. Selling council stock, demolishing homes, growing waiting lists. It's not pretty.

The Camden lot went out for a photoshoot - the councillor, the union rep, the estate respresentative. I stayed behind, feeling almost like I shouldn't be there.

My arm rose. My hand remained gently risen my heart banging away.

The priest saw it, nudged the MP for Great Grimsby who was chairing the meeting.

"I, I sent a postcard to the coalition in July asking that £283 million be returned to Camden. I haven't had a reply yet." A gentle laugh filled the atmosphere.
"I er, I sent a copy of it to Ed Miliband this morning. I've asked him to read it out. In my covering letter I said his constituency is elsewhere and elsewhere in the country a catastrophe is unfolding. You all know.."

I don't remember much after that. I didn't mention my son though. I didn't mention me. I mentioned only that it could kick start a much needed opposition my country was begging for.

Letting go of the postcard

Papier Mache Towers

11 October 2010

Dear Ed Miliband,

Please could you read out the copy of the postcard I sent the coalition in July which I have attached to this letter.
If you read it during PMQs I will come and sit the lobby, so if you are laughed and jeered at, you can say that I’m just outside and they can laugh and jeer at me. I accept they might do that but do not condone it.
I asked Frank Dobson for his blessing to send the postcard. I put you and your brother on it because you are connected to the borough. Please accept my apologies for spelling your names wrong.
Mr Miliband, your constituency is elsewhere. Elsewhere in the country a housing catastrophe is unfolding. Labour, your Labour can oppose the coalition’s plan to totally eradicate state social housing. Your Labour can restart the debate.
It needs to Mr Miliband. Five million people are on the waiting list for a council flat. That’s potentially five million votes for your party in 2015.
Labour won Camden’s local election from the Libdem/Tory coalition because of its policy on housing. I truly believe that.
You apologised for Iraq. Thank you Mr Miliband. Your party can oppose coalition housing policy. I know it can. Use my postcard to bring home the debate.
If one of your secretaries could call me so I know when to come to the House of Commons I would be truly grateful.
I want to help you, I want to help my borough – thousands of properties sit empty. Like many millions of people, I want positive change.
Very best of luck Mr Miliband.

Yours sincerely,

Sue de Nim

Monday, 11 October 2010

Last chance for the postcard?

I have written to the Leader of the Labour party asking him to read out my postcard to the House of Commons because there is a giant great big housing crisis that the coalition are making worse.

Will he do it? Who knows.

What's quite funny this time though, is that I am sending it internally!

Yes! Camden Defend Council Housing are going to lobby parliament today and all and sundry in the borough have been invited. I told them ages ago I'd go.

In the central lobby at the House of Commons there's a Post room. I don't know how much it will cost to send my letter but it won't be a fiver for next day delivery!

It's good to have something else to do when one is dreading (understatement of the day) the meeting with social services on Wednesday.

Can my sending a letter to the Leader of the Labour party for the benefit of my country be construed as emotionally abusing my son? Neglecting my son?

They will look for and expose any weakness. I'm not entirely sure what I've done to deserve that, I only want a secure flat in which to raise and provide for my child.

My postcard is positive. Must hang on to that.

Must hang on.

Friday, 8 October 2010

Finding some control - a song

My back's against the wall,
there’s no-one home to call,
I’m forgetting who I am
I can't stop raging

It's part not giving in
and part trusting my life
Can't do it all again and I'm not lying
oh oo oh oo oh oo oh oh oo oh oo oh oo oh

Standing in the way in control
yeah live my life
survive the only way that I know, know

I'm fighting this for us
because its easier to lose
and it's hard to face the truth
when you think your dying

It's part not giving in
and it's part trusting my life
Can’t do it all again but I don't stop trying
oh oo oh oo oh oo oh oh oo oh oo oh oo oh

Standing in the way in control
yeah live my life
survive the only way that I know, know
oh oo oh oo oh oo oh oh oo oh oo oh oo oh

Standing in the way of control
I live my life
Because I'm standing in the way of control
I will live my life
Because I'm standing in the way of control
I will live my life
Because I'm standing in the way of control
I must change my life life ohh oo
oh hey yeah yeah yeah

My back's against the wall,
there’s no-one home to call,
I’m forgetting who I am
I can't stop raging

it's part not giving in
and part trusting my life
Can't do it all again
I can’t stop trying
oh oo oh oo oh oh oo oh oo oh oh oo oh oo oh

Standing in the way in control
yeah live my life
survive the only way that I know, know

(Gossip, featuring Stigmum)

How can I be in arrears?

A letter from the housing association yesterday telling me I am £430.56p in arrears.

I moved in here in 2005.

I have been in receipt of housing benefit since late 2003.

Where have they plucked this figure from?

The clouds are a thin blanket beneath a blue sky

Doesn't rain it pours doesn't it

Answers in a magazine

My Pathmeads housing officer couldn't tell me what to expect with this bailiff's order, but as luck would have it, I got sent a magazine yesterday and there's a little section called "Ask Althea".

I could be the questioner but the response is all I need to know. Well, no, not all I need to know, but more than I currently do. Here it is, of value to you if you are ever evicted by a housing association (which from the bottom of my heart, I hope never):

Q: The lease on my property comes to an end in four weeks time, do I wait to be told when to move out or should I move out now?

A: Please do not move out. If the property owner does not renew the lease with us we will apply for an eviction appointment from the County Court. We will do this about a month after the lease ends (thanks for telling me) and will advise both you and the local authority that nominated you when this happens.

The court will take between six and eight weeks to schedule the appointment and they will give you at least seven days notice (oh wow, loads of time). We will be informed by the court at the same time as you will so we will not be able to notify you any earlier. We will also inform the council of the eviction date and check whether or not they still have a housing duty to rehouse you. If they do, alternative accommodation will be provided by the local authority.

On the day of eviction, you are required to leave all your belongings (what?) so it is important that you start packing and preparing as early as possible. Please remember to leave the property clean and tidy and return all keys and utility cards to us. You can always contact your housing officer for more information (can I? He didn't respond to my call last week...)

Seven days

At some point, I'll be given seven days.

All my stuff that was put in storage when I moved in here will be released.

I do not know where we are going. I do not know what to prepare for.

Forgive me oh social workers if I find this stressful.

I am abusing my son? Or is it a system abusing both of us?

Transfer to... or harm?

A meeting has been scheduled for me next week with a social worker transfer team.
My son's current social worker is from the duty and assessment team, I'm being transferred to a long term team because they are worried about the welfare of my child.

My son's school is invited, my housing support worker and the Foca was but I ummed and ahhed before saying no to that.

To say I'm not looking forward to it is the greatest understatement.

Chatting to son's deputy head this morning, she told me what to expect and said it 'wouldn't be easy'. "Be prepared to hear hard things," she said.

Amongst those, would you believe, is the accusation of emotional abuse.

Emotional abuse because I cry in front of my son (how little but they've seen me do it once or twice and that's enough)

Emotional abuse because I talk to my son about what's happening.

I've had it out with the social worker already that she told me I should.

They are likely to bring up the fact that my son wrote to Cameron. Social worker told Deputy and said that "wasn't right", my son is a "child".

I told Deputy my flat was tidy, we both know I have to try and keep it that way.

Emotional abuse, it's so insipid isn't it? And where do you draw the line? After all, I don't tell my son he's stupid, I don't swear at him, I don't tell him that if he doesn't behave it'll be his fault we end up in a hostel.

Fucking hell

My son has to see a nurse so this new team have a physical report. The Deputy hopes to be at the meeting to support us both but she's been called to dury service and might not be. My son's doing really well at school, has a solid group of friends. She's written a report for them in favour of how well he's doing and how settled he is.
"You'll have to be strong," said Deputy. "Try not to get defensive."
It's next wednesday. There is no room for paranoia. I'm seeing friends tonight. I will rage to them, because I need to rage. I have until next tuesday to get my act together and remain calm.
I need to use my experiences one day. What's happening is just not on.

Thursday, 7 October 2010

A postcard from Downing Street!

Ha ha! Quite made my day! (Small things entertain me as you can see)

I thought 'ey up, what's this?' as I spied a white envelope (16 by 11.5 cm/ 6ish by 4.5ish inches), quite firm to touch, with my name typed on the front on my doormat. I turned it over and there on the back, in bold black: 10 Downing Street!

I open it and spy the Downing Street crest. Ooh, is it an invitation?! My name is not on it, nor the date as it happens. This must be the new thing they send to everyone, regardless of problem:

I am writing to acknowledge your recent correspondence.

The Prime Minister appreciates you taking the time to write.

Your correspondence has been forwarded to the relevant Government department so they may reply to you, in detail, on the matters you raise.

Yours faithfully

(A signature scrawl, not typed out beneath)

A postcard! I do so love a postcard! Will my son get one? He wrote too! And when exactly will I get a more detailed reply I wonder? My guess is never because the response to the first letter I wrote back in May, said it had been passed on the Department for Local Government and Community and well, I'm still waiting for that.

Do you think they got my postcard and thought 'what a good idea?'
Do you think they heard I went to lobby the housing MP? I did say then to the people at the Commons reception it was by instruction from the PM's office because it was. A dated letter with my name on it and advice to follow.
Do you think they put those two things together and came up with a totally 'radical' way to deal with correspondance from societal riffraff so they, the PM's office, don't have to personalise anything anymore?

Still, a postcard! I find that quite funny given what I've been posting this morning!

Guiltless blogging

Hope came to my flat yesterday for a coffee. I asked if she minded coming to me, I had to get on top of my tidying up.

To cut a long story short, she did it. With amazing speed she cleared up the chaos in my living room and bedroom.

I don't know how she did it. It takes me a day just to clear the table. She arranged my son's toys, took everything off the armchairs and sofa and found somewhere for all of it. Some people have a talent for that kind of thing, not me. The corridor, flip, you can walk through it now without stepping on something that isn't the floor. I make our beds erm, everyday, but I've never seen the duvets so straight!

Gratitude doesn't go anywhere near how I feel.

"Everyone has a problem," said Hope. "Yours is tidying up. You're psychologically incapable of doing it. It's totally reflective of your state of mind, anyone can see that."

It's really wierd writing in an uncluttered space. There's loads more to do and throw out but she's made it so much easier.

My son couldn't stop giggling when he saw it, he was so happy.

I spent last night desperate for a permanent home; it was odd to feel so down after such a massive achievement.

The last time I felt secure in a flat was ten years ago in my Bolthole. It was tiny and I kept it so tidy. I discovered yesterday I can't take care of a place if I don't feel secure there.

I'm pretty hopeless at taking care of myself too. Coincidence that...

I've felt free to write this morning; it's been so nice not staring at wretched piles of paper and not knowing how to make a start on it.

Now I should have a go at clearing my kitchen. It wouldn't be a bad idea to eat some breakfast as I'm thinking of that. Or do you call it brunch when it's hours after you wake up?

Thank you, thank you Hope xxx

Five million votes up for grabs

Apparantly, at the last election, Labour lost four million votes.

Apparantly, last I heard, there are five million people waiting for a council flat in the UK.

That means that whichever party addresses the need for state/social housing could potentially grab five million votes come the next election.

I have the motive to set up my own political party, but sufferin' suffragettes, I Don't Know how to flamin' do it!

Not letting go of the postcard

Email: 7th Oct 2010

Subject: The 'postcard' I told you about; a better idea

Dear [Housing Councillor],

It was great to meet you last Friday at your surgery. I want to thank you again for implicitly understanding what I desire for my son, because no-one else does.
This email however, is about the postcard, not the deep and desperate desire to securely house my child without effecting his education nor the unjust policy of our not being awarded points for insecure housing because we're statutorily homeless.

[Housing Councillor], get Ed Miliband to read out the postcard! The idea came to me as I cycled my son home after talking to you.

Mr Miliband would be perfect! Mr Miliband could say that yes, he lives in the borough but his constituency is elsewhere and elsewhere there is a massive housing crisis that needs to be addressed. The coalition is blindly eradicating state social housing not realising that for millions, it is the platform back to work and off benefits. Capping housing benefits is not the answer. Mr Miliband has already said New Labour made mistakes which this renewed Labour is going to redress. Housing is a fantastic start because it's been ignored for years!

[Housing Councillor], [Council Leader] is a father in my son's playground. I originally asked his blessing to put his name on my postcard. He said yes, (but in the event there were only so many names I could put on that little bit of card) It is also a coincidence that he is Labour.

[Housing Councillor], I'm basically asking you, and Mr Dobson, to use me to access that money.

I am apolitical. I am an ordinary citizen and Mr Miliband could use this fact too. I've written to David Cameron three times. I met Nick Clegg in the offices of the Ham and High (how could he forget that!). All of this so recently too! Mr Miliband would come out of this unscathed because I am asking for the money. I am the one who looks stupid if the borough doesn't get it.

Please ask Mr Dobson to ask Mr Miliband to read out the postcard, or at least the three of you have a discussion about it. It is a small part of a greater problem and housing is so very topical at the moment. And let's be honest, in recent history, no-one has sent a postcard. The very nature of these little cards is they get lost under piles of envelopes and letters. I have a copy of it but I don't want it to be left too late.

What do you reckon [Housing Councillor]?

Kind regards,

Sue de Nim

A way forward for Labour?

Papier Mache Tower,
Sos I 2OK

21 September 2010

Dear Frank Dobson,

As you know I came to lobby you last week and left a green card for you to read out my postcard. I send a copy of it with this letter because it’s still my strong desire for you to do so.

I know you have tried to get the money owed to Camden back in the borough and the reason I sent my postcard in the first place and asked for your blessing to do so, is because I want you to succeed.

“If your MP is not satisfied with the answers received, he or she may feel that there is something to be gained by making the matter public and may want to raise the issue in the House of Commons in front of the press and public.” (

Please read it out for me. When you say to the coalition you wish to read out a postcard they may laugh. Tell them I want a proper discussion about this, it has cost one life already that we know of.

I spoke to Sir Ming Campbell while I was there and read him the postcard. He urged me to speak to you and I doubt will laugh. If one of the Miliband brothers wins the leadership you should have a natural ally because they are both born in the borough and as such should care about it.

I will get nothing for trying to help you Mr Dobson or help Camden. I really don’t think you have anything to lose by doing this for me though you know yourself you have the support of the borough, the Camden New Journal and the Ham and High.

Like I said to Sir Campbell, you have to do something or die when you’re in a situation like mine. My postcard potentially has a very positive outcome.

I wait to hear about it.

Yours sincerely,

Sue de Nim

What is an average wage?

The Tories are going to cap benefits and bring them in line with the 'average wage'.

What is the 'average wage'?

I've heard whispers that the Tory millionaires believe £15,000 a year is plenty for a working family (some tax threshold ends there).

£15,000 is nothing and worth even less than that here in the capital.

I have one child, not 2, 3 or 4.

You may think it's 'fair' (the new Tory buzzword) but how does one define 'fair'?

Ken Loach was on Newsnight last night. He said that the country's wealth is held by the top 10% of society. To take just 5 - 10% of that wealth would wipe out the national debt, he said.

True Blue Heseltine called him a "communist".

I was too stunned to think but Loach effectively told him to stop being abusive and to "grow up".

Why not communicate with the wealthy over the next four years? Why not, well, start again. The rich won't lose much and they are surely talented enough to make it all up again afterwards.

Wiping the debt here is so easy.

Why are the coalition hell bent on hurting the children?

Axing the children

Oh to have friends who think like me. I'm always afraid that I bore people to death talking about housing so it was great to get this little political missive last night:

What about the new Tory policy - re: capping housing benefit and leaks that they want to change the homeless status - so not attached to particular boroughs - pushing poorer people out to the suburbs - ghettos! - not that I want to light your fire, I know it's on fire enough as it is, but had to say it!! Someone should write about it! AND all that is in the paper is the blumming axe to the richer middle classes - and the housing benefit thing goes unnoticed!!! XXXX

I've not had the space to comment on Tory policies, hence I post our little exchange including my response:

Don't I fecking know it... all those 'stay at home' mothers who probably voted for the feckers. What I don't understand, is that if you are on your own and earn £45,000, you lose your child benefit, but if you're married and both earn £44,000, equalling £88,000 you not only get to keep the benefit, you also get a marriage tax allowance (oh yes, those flipping tories will do that) and like you say, meanwhile, the country is sinking under the housing caps, chucking people into ghetto's, increasing homelessness and no-one's breathing a word. I am in the unfortunate position of being caught in the middle of it all (well, housing, get to keep the child, probably... they're happily messing with welfare payments too......) and I want to scweam, and scweam and scweam like Screechy from the Care Bears but I've lost my voice and the Care Bears can't care any more because their little kingdom has come crashing down.
Grrrr (and I'll put a ! so it ends on a happy note!) xxxxxx

(Happy note for my friend you understand, me and stiggers both know there's nothing to be happy about. Bring back the Care Bears!)

Wednesday, 6 October 2010

I can rest later...

An email from Allocations this morning! A sign that I mustn't relax too much perhaps?

Dear Ms de Nim

It suddenly occurred to me that I had not replied to your email below and offer my apologies for this oversight.

Whilst we will try and ensure that you remain in Camden we cannot guarantee that you will remain in the Kentish Town area. In terms of the accommodation that [your support worker] spoke to you about, it would have been useful for you to have gone to see the property in Kilburn before entirely ruling it out. Unfortunately, it is no longer available. I can also assure you that if there was temporary accommodation near your son’s school we would have offered it to you by now, knowing that owner of [Papier Mache Towers] does not want to extend the lease with Pathmeads.

There may be properties, but what you need to understand is that they are not all owned by Camden – some are owned by housing associations and some owned privately. We can only offer what we have available to us.

I do hope that the counselling sessions, although they may have awakened dark periods of your earlier life, may help you work towards a positive future for you and your son.



My response - I should really think abit longer about the things I write but I think Stiggers takes over and shoots what I say without consulting my head:

Dear [Allocations],

Thanks for your reply. Last Thursday morning I sent [Support Worker] a text saying I should have agreed to view the Kilburn property. Could I still? I told him I was afraid, and I was. I hate to turn a property down, not that I've been given many opportunities these last six years.

Even if this was the most beautiful property in the world, my son's school wouldn't be local. Which of his friends would come and visit him? I went to see [Housing Councillor] who said I had to start thinking of secondary school. How can I? It was a temporary flat, we'd be thinking of moving out as soon as we moved in to avert another future eviction.

Kentish Town, Haverstock, South End Green, Tufnell Park, Dartmouth Park, Gospel Oak, I don't only look in Kentish Town.

A few weeks ago [Support Worker] told me that Camden couldn't legally look for temporary accommodation for me until the bailiff's order arrived. Being offered Kilburn came as a shock. If what you say is true, why weren't properties being offered to us as early as last September when we got the repossession order, or Christmas when we got the possession order? I raised with [Housing Councillor] the total injustice that a lone parent evicted from the private sector is given many extra points, and me none because my son and I are statutorily homeless. I could have been bidding with a better chance of getting a secure tenancy for a long time now.

My doctor didn't offer further counselling. She said I'd "been pushed from pillar to post" and couldn't see any value in it for me any more, as I sobbed in front of her.

I've put my pain into a postcard. There shouldn't be any empty properties. I know Camden has tried to get the money back and has failed. It might be madness going after it myself but people display their madness in different ways.

Thank you for offering Kilburn. I am truly sorry I didn't like what the location meant for my child. Thank you for continuing to ensure we remain in Camden, I will keep hoping for a positive resolution for me and my son.

Kind regards

Sue de Nim

Tuesday, 5 October 2010

Relax and be patient

This advice from Jonathan Cainer yesterday.

I do have to stop now, for a little while, nothing more I can do.

Shame I can't say the same thing about housework......

Packing can or can't wait, I don't know but I do have to get on top of my terrific mess....


Gimme Shelter

So much can happen in a week.

Last monday morning, before my son's social worker called, before my support worker called, having felt so low, I called Shelter, the homeless charity.

They booked me an appointment for yesterday.

How was I to know that everything would change?

A tube strike yesterday. Millions of londoners struggling to get to work. The overland was working, the overland could take me to Stratford.

What to say to the person? I'd been offered a place. Camden had fulfilled its duty. There was nothing to say.

Oh, apart from fear. Fear of what might happen next.

A lovely woman. When I showed her the article I'd written in the CNJ she said: "I'm glad someone's being proactive."

She said she could put a call through to my support worker, to find out what's happening now. I told her I'd send the two emails I wrote to the council, last monday and tuesday night.

"We can't take any action right now," she said, "but call me if there are any developments." She gave me her telephone number.

"I'm sorry I couldn't be more help," she said as I left.

"Oh you have," I replied. "More than you realise, honestly." Then I hugged her.

Gimme Shelter is a Rolling Stones song. No tunes were playing in my head yesterday. Popping into Morrison's for a bottle of water afterwards though, I saw "The Magic of Doris Day" cd selling for £4.

Unlike my other Doris cd, this one has her signature tune and more.
Que Sera Sera...
Perhaps, Perhaps, Perhaps....

Oh policy maker, hear my plea

Friday night, the skies showering the landscape, I put my son on the back of Zat bike and headed down to the community centre in Holborn. Parked it outside a shop called "Bike Fix". "This is where I bought my bike!" I said to my son.

Comfort in the familiar.

We were fourth in line and waited. My son had his Gargolyz book I gave him for his birthday. I'd forgotten my lighter and tried to ease my desperation for Nico Teen.

Finally, our turn.

"I need you to change a policy," was the first thing I said. "It might be too late to help me and my son but I need you to do this."

I told him about How's your brother, I told him the existing policy was so unfair.

He seemed like a kindly gentleman as he asked me about our situation and took down my details. I felt a rush of, a rush of, well relief I guess, when he said: "Kilburn? You can't live in Kilburn, you need to be near your son's school!"

"Oh you're the first person, the first, I haven't had to justify that to..." I could have cried, but yes, only relief washed over me.

He said he'd look into our points. I told him not to bother, others had, they were 'correct'. He said he'd look into them anyway.

I mentioned again the statutorily homeless policy, and he said something about that being 'legislation'. Mental note to pursue that sometime, somehow.

"I came about something else too. I sent a postcard to parliament in July. I need you to speak to Frank Dobson for me."

We chatted a while about that. "There are 56 million people in the country!" he said, to my asking that it's read out in the House of Commons. I was thinking: "So?" I was still surfing on my relief board.

"I will certainly mention it," he concluded and I saw a real glint in his eye. He could see how positive my little card was too!

I wanted to hug him when I left. I shook his hand instead. My son was starving so I took him to a local pizza place and we shared a ham one.

With only seats outside, the rain pattered as we sat under heaters, warm and oblivious to it.

I prayed to angels to keep us safe on the cycle back, so tired I was.

Hope paved our journey back.

How's your brother?

The woman who runs the party shop has a brother who's a single dad.

Years ago, when I was doing my masters I think, she told me he was in a hostel with his son, who's about the same age as mine.

I didn't ask to interview him, it somehow felt intrusive. I just told her to let me know if he'd be up for it.

Ever since, every time I go into the party shop (once, or twice a year) I see her and say:

"How's your brother?"
"Still there."

"How's your brother?"
"He's accepted a private flat, two bedrooms, better than the hostel."

"How's your brother?"
"Still there."

Last week I went back.

"How's your brother?"
"He's being evicted."
"Yeah, the lease has run out. He's been given loads of extra points and he's viewing properties but turning them down. Because of a small kitchen one of them. I tell him 'take it, just take it, you don't want to end up back in a hostel."
"Shit, no he doesn't, but it's his forever place isn't it. Wish him the best from me."

The next time I went to the party shop was Friday. I didn't say "How's your brother?". I said:

"I know I've never met your brother but I'm seeing a councillor tonight. I'll never ask his name but I will call him How's your brother because he and I are the same. We're both lone parents, we both have a son, we are both being evicted, but he's getting extra points because it's private and I'm getting nothing because I'm "statutorily homeless". We should both get the same."

"Yes, and you're a mother with a son, they are both the same sex, they should get a one bed really," she said.
"No, we're both the same and should be treated the same."

This glaring eviction injustice, at the nth hour, is what I took to the councillor.

Monday, 4 October 2010

Changing one's mind isn't optional

Thursday morning, 9.15 am, text to support worker:

Hi [], I had questions for the flat not answered so should have agreed to see it. Was scared of making a decision on the spot that would detriment [my son]. Still am if honest but should see it. Can I still? Tried to call but your phone's off. Sue.

An hour later, no answer. I go to the hairdresser, flip it's like a little prayer room for me at the moment, and ask if I can just sit a minute. Supermario's assistant tells me to go to the housing office and call support worker from there.

I do that. Knackered I curl on the chair provided and cradle the phone, waiting to be connected.

He tells me the flat has 'gone'. That the council has acted within its legal requirement. That they can't hold properties 'indefinitely'. That those who 'consistently turn down properties' won't be helped. I tell him I don't 'consistently turn properties down' as I don't 'consistently' see any. No energy left in my voice. I submit.

He later sends me a text to my previous one:

Don't worry about it now, just make sure you see the next offer

What's the next offer? A hostel? I send one last text:

Thanks, I totally understand that but can't help being scared 4 [my son] His party is on sat so will breathe & concentrate on that cos haven't been.
Take care

Later found out the councillor in charge of housing was holding a surgery the following evening.

They say men can compartmentalize their thoughts better than women.

White Nights.

Having it out with the social worker

Last wednesday. All so long ago now but I feel I have to write it down.
Last wednesday my son's social worker came round.
I asked her why she'd told my doctor my child would be put on the child protection register if I turned down the flat and ended up in a hostel.
She said she didn't say that, so I said 'so my doctor's lying?'
"Well we have concerns.." she began to say.
"What concerns?" I think I spat it out, I was so angry.
"You tell your son everything that's happening," she said.
"You told me to!" I interrupted.
"No I didn't!" she countered.
"Yes you did. You came here asking him what he thought of his school and after he said he liked it, you told him to go into another room and told me to prepare him for leaving it!"
"Leaving the flat."
"No, leaving his school."
"You have so many issues," she said carrying on with the list of 'concerns'.
"No I don't!" I didn't yell but there was angry inflectives in my speech.
"Yes you do."
"No I don't. Housing, housing, housing is my only issue!"

I'm lucky she's nice. I'm lucky she can empathise with my situation because she's a single mother herself. I'm lucky we have an understanding.

I'm not lucky she wants to transfer me to another social worker team. That to me is far more dangerous. My son being given a child protection order because the new person doesn't not empathise or understand.

Do you want to hear something really fecking funny, something that could make a comedy circuit if expressed better than me?

Doc told me I shouldn't tell anyone I had suicidal thoughts, that's why the social services would put my son on the protection register.

I've met parents, you may or may not have read, who have had their children taken away from them.

Taken away so the parents can just finish themselves off?

It really sickens me. I do not stub out fags on my son's back. I do not kick him into touch.

But I'm under their bloody spotlight now, for bad parenting - not coping with the stress of evictions my symbolic husband has placed me under by not providing the housing so desperately, desperately needed, in my borough, in my country.

I'm onto it though. I'm doing what I can.

A party miracle!

I did it! Against so many odds, I gave my son a successful party!!

Seeing the children stuffed full of balloons under their oversized clothes was just too funny, especially with the Benny Hill theme tune accompanying them. I so wish I'd had a camera.

In two teams they really went for the 'up and under' balloon race, with one child passing it over their heads to the child behind passing it over through their legs.

Musical bumps and statues, oh the competition was fierce!

I even got some food into them, albeit forgetting to put down any plates before hand, but hey, that's all part of the miracle that the whole thing happened in the first place!

Although I was listening to R Kelly's I'm the World's Greatest when I got home that evening (oh to sing that to housing success...) with a swollen heart of happiness, I cannot take even half the credit.

If my mate Charlie hadn't agreed to be DJ, for nothing
If Issy hadn't offered to bake the cake and my brother going to collect it off her an hour before the party started because she was too ill to deliver it
If the mum I rarely speak to in the playground hadn't come out of absolutely nowhere and taken charge of sandwich making/running to shop for fruit and squash/ running home to get thread to tie balloons together as I pumped what the children would later fight with and stamp on and play football with and fence with
If decks and disco lights hadn't been provided by the woman who hires out the hall, for a fantastic mid afternoon disco like feel

Angels were surely out in force that day, surely were.

I'd told my boy no party because of housing troubles, then changed my mind and thought goddammit no, I will inject some joy into our horror limbo situation.

And I did it. My boy beaming from ear to ear, with all his little mates, no space or time to remember we were in the midst of imminent eviction.

My mate Charlie gave my son the cd of all the music he picked out. Dr Who and the Jackson 5, Star Wars and Ottawa. A real treat for me I can tell you, now the moment's gone.

Thank you everyone who made it happen! xxxx

Friday, 1 October 2010


Just popped in to release some steam.

Son's party is tomorrow. There's food, decorations, plates, all kinds of things to go out and buy. Not least a couple of balloon pumps to blow up 200 odd balloons.

Thank heavens for Yellow Moon. Last week.. was it last week? I went online so all the party bags will have things in them, and they arrived the very next day. Just got to put them in, oh and get some party bags. Lucky some left over from previous years. ( for those who've never heard of this great site!)

I've got to get on top of this but I also have a very important mission this evening.

By chance it's the local councillor in charge of housing who's having a surgery way over somewhere tonight. I have to speak to him. I have to get him to change a policy. It's too late to help me and my child but I have to give it a shot. 6 O'clock tonight in the wind and rain (because it would choose to rain wouldn't it?) I'll put my boy on my bike and head down Holborn way.

Is it too late to help me and my child?

This week has been monumental.

Breathe, breathe, breathe.

(Thanks Rosie Scribble for your comment x)