This has been written with the permission of the family involved.
Yesterday, a lady came into the cafe with her four children; two boys aged 8 and 7, and twin girls aged 3. Gorgeous family; well behaved, polite. They arrived in Leeds on Monday, from London. All British citizens, coming to Leeds for a new chapter in their lives.
Leeds, she said, offered a cheaper way of life, despite leaving her mother behind in a B&B in London, and leaving the hospitality of her friend whom they had been staying with for 4 months (father of the boys not around, and father of the twins was a failed asylum seeker so not in the UK any more). So they had been homeless and she was trying to give her kids a better way of life. Strong woman!
Getting the boys settled into a school is high on the agenda so they came to have a meeting with the Leeds City Council Admissions Officer, next door, and ended up staying at TLC most of the morning.
Today I went round to their house. She had said that she wouldn’t have anything to offer me; not even a chair to sit on, but nothing prepared me for the conditions I saw.
Let me be clear. This is a British citizen in a private landlord agreement. The kids were huddled around the one electric heater in the kitchen
You’ll notice the lack of doors on the cupboards. The oven doesn’t work yet and the fridge was delivered yesterday.
The front room is unuseable owning to the state of the floor
And there is no hot water, heating or gas. No washing machine (and even if there were, the clothes wouldn’t dry).
And I’m not even indulging in details of the first or second floor.
We went round to the property agency. We talked. I name dropped. Made sure that it was clear I knew tenants’ rights. Seemed to do the trick as he promised a washing machine and electrician today. I gave him my number. Promised I’d stay in touch.
On arriving, depositing precious savings to secure the house rental has left them with very little until the next benefit payment in mid April. What they do have seems to be hemorraging on items for the kids and the electricity meter.
So what are they eating? I’m not sure. Chicken and chips from the take away up the road seemed to be a staple, other than that, I don’t know.
I took them to Tescos. I have just returned them home with a week’s supply (I hope) of essentials, fresh ingredients to cook with (when the gas and oven get connected), and desperately resisting the toys and treats for the kids.
Writing this blog post, I have just received this text:
my children are very happy for all you have provide them-big smile on their face-many thanks Anna.you save me-
I want to cry. Something so basic and that I take for granted all the time is a lifeline for someone else.
Here’s a little list of things that will undoubtedly help make their lives a little easier over the next few weeks. Please be in touch if you can help, and prove, after a rough start, that we can provide a true Yorkshire welcome: