Home and a Front Door Key

Life is full of ‘what ifs ‘ and during my journey through the CJS,one of the glaringly obvious stand-alone issues, I faced, was that I did not have, a mental health illness and/or a substance misuse problem. It is not a lie when I say I was unable to get any help to secure a roof over my head. I was often asked if I had a drug addiction, or a mental health illness. Computer said no, so many  times to me.

I would go as far to say, not having any of the above, made it nigh-on-impossible to get any help. I have worked with three women this week, all have had contact with the CJS and despite their chaotic lives, primarily having no home, these are bright,streetwise, tough and incredibly resourceful women. The beautiful aspect of all the ugliness they have been through shines through in having the simple things in life. Like a bathmat, sanitary items, bubble bath and hot water. Essentially, a place called home. These women had no home and now they do. Three women who came to me via different agencies, have bonded over a coffee and talked to each other on how they could live together. All were sofa-surfing, on two-seater sofas, or mattresses, living under other people’s roofs and tip-toeing around their hosts.

But no longer. These three women now have a home, their own home, they have put pictures up on the wall, sorted out whose cupboard is whose. These women have run homes, raised children and lost everything. I know what that is like. It is soul destroying.

I know and understand where these women have been. Two of these women have dealt with their substance misuse prior to coming to SHE. They had done the hard work while sleeping on someone else’s sofa. I watched them on Friday as they unpacked their food and proudly placed them in the kitchen cupboards. I simply leaned against the wall and smiled. For those familiar with my story, I remember that feeling well. To hand these women, their own front door key was the best feeling for them and for me.

The first ‘live’ week of SHE is spearheaded by these three women, who never knew each other and now work together to begin a journey. Three very different journeys, yet united in circumstance.

Now these women can begin in the safety of their own home. From the sofa of others, to responsibility of running a home. They are all going to write to our women in US prisons and with links into courses, craft classes, wishes to end their dependency on benefits, entering a court dock is the furthest from their minds.

In its first week, SHE has housed three women, that is down to hard work from the community, Graham Lightbown, Lancashire Constabulary, Inspire, Community Solutions and the support of the team who work alongside me, not to mention the great team at BRPCVS.

I am highly protective of SHE. Built from the canal towpath, a pen and a tatty notepad, to a live project with a multi-agency approach. No politics, just a simple little piece of metal for three women who were mentally & physically exhausted because of their living circumstances after being in prison and a community-based sentence.

A home is safety & security. Without this, there is nothing. Only then can any person begin to build a life.

 

 

 

 

 

 

3 comments

  1. Well done to you all.

    I am visualizing similar for all the homeless women created by the courts in DV cases, where the mothers have committed no crimes, but appeared weak and broken in front of the judge and so lost custody and their own homes- which most owned before marriage. From bankers to solicitors clerks their stories are all the same.
    Now some are homeless, some live in sheds, but no one in the system bothers.

    Your last lines are what jumped out at me.

    A home is safety & security. Without this, there is nothing. Only then can any person begin to build a life.”

    These victims of crime cannot begin to heal without first having a place to call home.

    The legal abuse has had a double whammy effect….re abused by the system paid to protect them and their children.

    Others have lost their children to forced adoption for reporting domestic violence.

    I am writing as i feel inspired by you.

    1. Hi Catherine,

      Thank you for your response.

      Absolutely. I have seen many women homeless who are domestic violence victims. I listened to a radio show and one woman was living in a tent in a field.

      Without a home, there is little access to services. One of the most feared sectors of our society is the homeless. Despite glossy advertisements that homeless people can ask for help. Street homelessness is rampant.

      It is never right that women are fleeing dangerous situations often with children and the alternative is homelessness. We need to be hanging our heads in shame. Unregulated private sector cherry-picking of prospective tenants and the social housing migraine leaves a wide chasm in society.

  2. A very profound statement Tracey, without a nucleus nothing else can be formed. One simple thing that everyone takes for granted a place to lay your head down and like you say your own key to your own door.
    The phrase that the “key” is paramount in so many situations and sets of circumstances that can make or break so many people. It contradicts the statement “lock them up and throw away the key” Yet the symbol of one key can unlock years of misery and misfortune.
    The milestone inspector trod many miles from town to town and city to city, wandering aimlessly and no key was necessary for there was no door to open. The window of opportunity enabled an insight that behind your own front door anything was possible, the key factor being just as you state, a key to your own door.

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