Real Stories Inside The Social Care System- How My Loving Family Became Unrecognisable: Part 2 – Anonymous

Continues from part 1 https://theavengeruk.com/2019/02/03/real-stories-inside-the-social-care-system-how-my-loving-family-became-unrecognisable-part-1-anonymous/

I was slowly growing, with no steady income, or father I had to help my mother a lot with my siblings.

We were neglected as my mother resorted to booze for depression. We were a dysfunctional family there were no boundaries nor routine.

Many alcohol users came to the home to ‘party’ leaving us to fend for ourselves. I’d have to cut potatoes into slices and fry them as chips.

Nutella spread was a life saver.

Instant mash for my younger sister. That’s all we knew.  

I thought it was normal because it was continuous. My mother conditioned us well in never being allowed to reveal what happened at home otherwise we would be taken away from her.

That thought frightened us all especially me, as I did not want to be separated from my siblings, I thought no one could take care of them better than I did. So, we stayed quiet; the art of deception and manipulation.

My mother had multiple partners and relationships, I never developed an affectionate bond with her so there were no intimate moments such a cuddles or alone time spent with her.

Her attention was more focused on partying with her pals.

No one cared for us we were just side-lined. My mother often verbally abused us even beat us when we refused her demands or were unhappy with something.

We would all be woken up sometimes in the middle of the night from a deep sleep to accompany her to the shops to buy more booze. I remember all of us crying out of tiredness.

Many times, we would go hungry as she spent welfare benefits on booze.

We were isolated, abused, and neglected. We all had severe headlice, the soles of our feet would be black from all the dirt from the carpet, many times drinks, faeces, and urine would be embedded onto the carpet. Our uniforms would be dirty, naturally we all possessed an unkempt look, our attendance at school was declining through that concerns were raised by school to social services.

Normal checks would be undertaken with us not saying anything against our mother eventually the case being closed. My mother developed a reputation within the area as being the local ‘prostitute’ her promiscuity didn’t help.

We often were teased & bullied due to that. I hated her!

I just wanted her to be normal, a normal mum, why couldn’t she be normal? I’d wonder. 

I thought about my father, what state was he in?

Was he ok?

Would he get well soon?

I formed a hate for my mother she would turn into another person when drunk, a pretentious egotistical embarrassment! We never brought friends over because of the state of the home including her impulsive behaviour. It was all about her, her drink, her party, he music, her enjoyment. We would always come home to a full house and music with drink. my maternal uncles knew my dad left, they included themselves in my mums partying, playing an active role in supplying her with drink. They did not care about us. I developed a thick skin when my uncle tried to molest me with my mother’s approval. Promising to buy me a new phone if I allowed it. I was determined that would not happen by pre- planning my escape and defence if it did. (it didn’t happen) the verbal abuse was bad enough though. I would get so upset sometimes I wrap myself up so tight into my quilt and sob.

Emotional heartbreak!

I couldn’t believe someone that was supposed to love me could hurt be so badly.

No one was there to protect us no one was kind to us.

I’d look at my mother in her skimpy outfits dancing provocatively, insinuating sexual gestures toward men in the home openly.

She knew I was unhappy she laughed.

There was no stopping her-she did what she wanted, the attention was too great for her.

It gave me a gut-wrenching feeling where at times anger would build up, I imagined wanting her dead believing that would give me some release.

1999 I was 11 years old. I started high school. I enrolled myself, went to all the open days on my own dressed in my primary school uniform.

Many children were there with their parents, I was alone.

I got through, settled well made friends and was happy enough. My mother was still beating me especially if I didn’t tend to my younger siblings or clean up before she woke. One Saturday morning I did everything that was requested of me, yet my mother proceeded to grill me about how useless I was, I felt anger instead of being scared.

She continued holding a broom stick waiting to strike.

I conjured up strength from anger, got up snatched the broom held it towards her and said

“don’t you ever hit me again, if you do, I will hit back”

I believe at the moment I would have damaged her. My mother was in shock she used my little sister as a pawn called the police and stated I beat her. The police attended our home I was shaking and crying. The officer spoke to me alone explain indirectly that he knew I didn’t do anything. I was so fearful. He could see I was a lost soul. I said

“I don’t want to be here, I have to stay because of my siblings”

He took a statement and passed it on to the right department.

From that day forward my mother never laid a finger on me or my siblings. I took sole care of them. She went out selling herself for cash or to party. Its as if she was the child and I were the parent.

The roles switched that’s how it felt.

During the summer holidays, on one occasion I went out to meet a friend, while doing so shortly I was approached by a family member who instructed me to rush home. I was not interested until I was instructed again in which I did listen and started making my back thinking this better not be a joke. I walked in and to my surprise my brother was in tears sitting on my mother’s lap with two suited men sitting on my floor I thought “what the hell”

My mum said ‘come near to me’ I declined and sat on the sofa alone. Eyes were all on me (sad eyes) my mum shared,

“Nini your dad is dead”

I froze, I wailed and shook uncontrollably.

“He was arrested for being drunk and was taken to the police station, he had a heart attack in his overnight cell”

I couldn’t even understand that!

A part of me died that day, I totally lost my innocence and childhood.

We attended the funeral where there was an open casket, I saw my paternal grandmother who cried non-stop, the grandmother I did not see in years but loved so dearly as a child.

Nobody cuddled us. Not even our mother.

We saw our dad in his coffin while family prayed repeating mantras.

My fathers’ family were informed of his death before we were and took full responsibility for funeral arrangements. It was a traditional Hindu ceremony followed with cremation.

Very surreal, I was frightful as I thought my dad would wake up, he didn’t. 

Dressed in a dark ash grey suit he lay there with his jet-black hair combed over concealing his bald patch, he looked like a healthy man just asleep.

My father slept rough and drank constantly his health deteriorated linked to alcohol misuse. He lived briefly in a hostel causing a disturbance as he was highly intoxicated, being arrested and detained He was found unconscious in his cell the following morning.

There was an inquest to his death which ruled “death by natural causes” as the autopsy revealed.

He died two days after my brother’s birthday. He was 46 years old.

Age 27 I managed to locate his coroners report and death certificate. That provided me with much needed closure. Two years later from his death my mother didn’t change.

We were all removed from my mother’s care the local authority placing a full care order on myself and my siblings. My mother lost all parental rights, she refused to undergo requests made social services giving her a chance to prove herself as a mother.

It was a hard time we suffered deep emotional trauma.

My mother did not seek to keep in contact with us. (she made many excuses from not having the means to travel, when she didn’t need to our location was 10 minutes walking distance. Her partners, party life was more important, she was free to do what she wanted.)

Now aged 53 she suffers alcohol related illnesses which include acute brain damage. She is alone, isolated & having to take many forms of medications. My siblings are not in contact with her, I have visited her a couple of times for closure, my mother is still in denial.

She still drinks, however I believe she understands what her choices, behaviour, and actions have cost her. It’s too late, we have all grown up leading healthy lives.

Only recently finding out, myself and my siblings were known to social services over a span of 10 years.

So, when I was age 5! There was discord already at the early stages. 20 years ago, was a different time and place but we shouldn’t have had to endure what we did.

As for compassion I find it hard to have for both parents of mine. I have empathy to a certain extent but compassion is different. I lost my childhood, my identity, my family. I wondered for years what love was, what belonging felt like.

It took me a very long time to figure it all out, well come to some conclusion.

I am age 30 with two beautiful boys who are a pleasure! They are thriving and are super content. I share the stories my parents told me with them as it’s important for them to know about their grandparents, even though they may never meet to build a bond. I see both my mother and father in them. I am at peace with everything as I am strong, having built my life the way I want it.

Being truthfully honest, I have had many bad patches, trials and tribulations. I never knew what potential I had until I left my mother, I received intense therapy, which helped build my confidence understanding between love and abuse.

See I never realised fully that my situation was abuse because I always believed parents do not do that. I loved my father dearly, I loved my mother, but despised her choices and actions. I hated my father for leaving, for drinking, for dying! Same as I hated my mother for her abusive nature, her insults, her lashings, her inability to protect and care for me and my siblings. But then I think as from the beginning look at how my parents met, look under what circumstances, look at their own trials coming into this country fleeing all they knew. was its trauma that was never been dealt with?

I don’t know. But what I do know is the power of love is real, I love my boys and I could not imagine them going through half the things I did.

I have my days where I’m on edge because the world can be over whelming, but never would I subject intentional abuse towards my children. They are my world the only biological family I have that are close.

For them, I work hard, I better myself, I strive for achievement and positivity. Most of all I know I want to be nothing like how my parents ended up. I wish I got to know my parents a bit better their drinking clouded their ability to connect normally.

I’ve had to be totally broken in order to fix myself back up again.

I chose to swim instead of sink, I am a survivor.

Very rarely do I open up privately as it is extremely personal, but I realise real stories should be shared in order to help others heal we are not alone!

Nini

Part 1 is here https://theavengeruk.com/2019/02/03/real-stories-inside-the-social-care-system-how-my-loving-family-became-unrecognisable-part-1-anonymous/

 

A Desperate Plea From A Relative Of A Rough Sleeper By The Masked Avenger Anonymous

We have all walked past a rough sleeper on the street. Sometimes we give it a second thought. Sometimes we stop and chat, maybe even try to help.

But mostly we walk on by.

Most of us are fortunate enough to have never been there and while we sympathise, we often try and forget it and move on with our busy lives. Rushing to get somewhere; an appointment or some such.

We often don’t see the person beyond the sleeping bag. Sometimes it is very hard to imagine how someone got there. The government dehumanise rough sleepers. They advise us not to feed them as though they are pigeons in Trafalgar Square. They put spikes on floors to stop them being able to get some shelter in a shop doorway. Again treated like pests. So it’s no wonder that we walk on by. Sometimes it is a taboo subject.

But for me it is different. I happen to know a rough sleeper very personally.

You might want to ask me a few questions. Does anyone help him? Is he loved? Do you help him? The answer is yes. To all of the above.

But our help is not enough and the ‘why’ and the ‘how’ he gets into this position is what is complex.

My uncle has undiagnosed mental health conditions. He is an addict. Self medicating I guess. He has never had the support he needed from the professionals. And this is the product of years of neglect.

Born in the 60s to parents with severe mental health issues that lost everything down to gambling, my uncle was not diagnosed with anything himself or supported. Instead when the family broke down, my grandmother had a mental breakdown and no one was there to help. The authorities left my grandmother to it and just took my uncle away into care when he was 7. And that was the start of it. In and out of care. In and out of trouble.

” A handful, naughty, out of control, the mother can’t cope”

While he was in the place that was supposed to care for him, he was abused.

He went in as a child with problems and came out disturbed with even bigger problems.

No one knew what happened at the time. This is only a recent revelation. So he continued. In and out of trouble causing merry hell for the family.

As he got to adulthood he started to ‘self medicate’ and slowly but surely became an addict. Which led to petty crime, prison. And eventually being institutionalised .

“A write off'”

On paper yes. But what no one else saw was the snippets of the man he could have been if the support had been there during his childhood.

Detained at Her Majesty’s pleasure, he had structure, routines and he flourished. He took courses and passed them all. He read and learned and became a talented writer.

He did endless courses and took all of the opportunities he could. He grabbed them with both hands.So when he went back into the outside world he started his own business, he even wrote for a national newspaper as a regular columnist. He became a published author. Some semblance of a normal life was finally coming his way.

He was capable and intelligent and we could see the person he could become if he’d been given more support as a youngster.

But things happened and again the support fell away. Without the guidance of a probation officer, without the structure, his mental health problems that simmered under the surface reared their ugly, scathing, self destructing head again.

Addiction came back with a vengeance and along came some new ones too.

So we saw him slip back. He lost everything and again he went on the slippery slope into the abyss of addiction and self destruct.

So, we try to help as a family, but its not possible to keep an eye on him 24/7.

The downward spiral was and is fast and relentless;he loses touch of where he is and he ends up on the street. He loses contact with any kind of support network and before you know it he is sleeping rough.

We can’t track him. We don’t know where he is.

We’ve had phone calls in the past from wonderful passer bys that have tried to help him. In his moments of lucidity he remembers a number of a random relative and some very nice person decides to help him and calls.

We then hear he’s been in various places begging as he has lost everything. So we get there and we have to try and get him some help. He’s unwell and doesn’t know where he is. The police come and tell us not to bother with A and E as they are overcrowded but that they will try to help him.

Do you notice that even though I’m describing events in the past that I am using present tense? Why you might ask?

Because this is a recurring event. This happened last month but it could happen tomorrow, next week, next month. We never know what will happen next. This is the pattern that happens over and over again.

Services that are cut to shreds still try their best to help him. There are genuinely good mental health staff, hospital staff, police officers and key workers out there.

But it’s not enough.

The services need to be joined up. They need more funding to give him the intensive therapy and support for his mental health needs as this is the root to all of his problems, I believe.

But all that happens is the problem is treated that day. Acute support is given while he is physically unwell. But there is not enough in place to prevent this from happening again.

So I sit here and wonder what people must think when they walk past him. When he ends up on the street, bounding in and out of shops, trying to get someone to help him.

They will never see the man he can be. The man he has been, the man he could have been.

Every person has a story, but homeless people are nothing more than pests to the Tories.

If we followed the advice that they give us, which is to ignore a homeless person, don’t give them money or food; if every passer by that has helped my uncle thus far listened to this advice that this ‘government’ dish out my uncle would be dead by now. Perhaps that’s what they want. By treating homeless people like pests perhaps they think they will just die off.

But instead there are good people out there, people try to help. And for now he and we are riding our luck. That might just change one day. And we dread phone calls sometimes. What will happen next we just don’t know.

So I want to say to the people that help, the doctors, the nurses, the passers by, the staff in Pret that give out food, the key workers: Thank You!!!

Don’t ever change and maybe one day if we fight hard enough we will have a government that cares too so that real change can happen and people living in the streets being dehumanised by a callous government will be a thing of the past.

Isn’t It Time We Made Homes Fit For Human Habitation? By Kelly Grehan and Lisa Mulholland

The second reading of Karen Buck MP’s Homes (Fitness for Human Habitation and Liability for Housing Standards) Bill is on January 19th 2018.

We can hardly believe that, in the 6th richest country in the world, in 2018 it is necessary for such a bill to be raised.  

It is astonishing that such a protection is not already in existence for tenants. Tenants have no avenue for redress or means of compelling landlords to make repairs or even secure the safety of the property.

The Bill would empower tenants by giving them the right to take their landlord to court if they fail to take action to resolve a problem.

There are currently around one million rented homes with hazards that pose a serious risk to health and safety. This affects over 2.5 million people.

You might think that this lapse in the law is an oversight that just needs to be rectified. But you would be mistaken.

A version of the Bill was first introduced by Karen Buck in 2015 and was ‘talked out’. A version of the Bill was also proposed as an amendment to the Housing and Planning Act 2016 and was voted down by the government. Including the 87 Tory MPs who are landlords.  Their argument was that such legislation would burden upon landlords and discourage people from renting out homes.

How did we get in the situation we are in today, one might ask.

Many years of under funding and de regulation of the housing market we could argue.

What could be a greater burden for any person than trying to live in a ‘home’ unfit for human habitation, you might wonder.

Data from the English Housing Survey 2017 found that Almost a third (29 per cent) of homes rented from private landlords fail to meet the national Decent Homes Standard; meaning they either contain safety hazards or do not have acceptable kitchen and bathroom facilities or adequate heating

Poor housing impacts on children by making them 25% more at risk of ill health or disability, including raised risk of meningitis or asthma and a greater chance of mental health issues.

They are also more likely to miss school through illness.  Almost one million privately rented homes are deemed to be in a state of “substantial disrepair”, while 442,000 have damp in one of more rooms.

Poor housing also places a greater burden on other services and affects society as a whole, not just children.

Substantially more working age adults living in bad housing report fair, bad or very bad general health (26%) than those living in good housing (17%), with adults in bad housing 26% more likely to report low mental health compared with those living in good housing.

Those living in bad housing are almost twice as likely to have their sleep disturbed by respiratory problems at least once a month.

The association between living in bad housing and health problems is particularly acute among those above retirement age; with Pensioners in bad housing a third more likely to have fair, bad or very bad health compared with those in good housing (58% vs 38%).

Almost a fifth (19%) suffer from low mental health compared with 11% in good housing.

Almost twice as many pensioners living in bad housing suffer from wheezing in the absence of a cold, compared with those in good housing.

Not only is this unacceptable and immoral in this day and age but it also undoubtedly places more burden on the cash strapped NHS, including mental health services and schools that are already under so much pressure.

So what can we do about this?

We welcome the second reading of the bill and hope that this can proceed to the next stage. MPs will have a vote on this issue and we the people can apply pressure on our local MPs to vote the right way.

You can find who your local MP is and and how to contact them by clicking on the link below.

http://www.ukpolitical.info/YouandyourMP.htm

The above is taken from Natcen’s 2013 report on People in bad housing.

Why Has It Taken So Long To Start Work On Shielding Grenfell Tower? By Lisa Mulholland 

Two weeks ago, I was on my way to a concert at Wembley. Happy and excited as I was driving along through London, (we travelled from south London and was heading to North London) my cousin and I were happily pointing out all of the pretty sights in London. 

As we continued our drive, singing along to music and generally in a fantastic mood, we were driving over a flyover and spotted a skyline that was filled with tower blocks that were lit up. All except one. One huge tower was darker than the night sky.

I wasn’t sure exactly where I was, as I was just following my sat nav but this tower was huge and haunting. Something about it unnerved me. 

In my head I thought ” What is that… it can’t be Grenfell can it?”

As I got closer I realised it was. 

We both fell silent. Our singing stopped. I gulped and said “I think that is Grenfell”.

We got closer and I could see the burnt shell. Towering above us. And I cannot explain the sheer horror I felt. I flinched and gasped at the enormity of it. Overcome with emotion my reflexes kicked in and I shouted “Oh My God.”

I am not an emotional person. I cry perhaps 3 times a year but I cried right there and then.

Just the sight of the tower reduced me to shake and cry. And I was only driving past. It is a feeling that has stayed with me and I cannot describe to people just how horrific it was to see that tower.

Which instantly led me to ask myself “How on earth to people who live next to the tower cope with seeing that every day?”

I didn’t know anyone in that tower. I was just a passerby yet the punch in the stomach I felt by looking at it was very overwhelming. 

Imagine seeing that every day? 

Imagine seeing it burn!

Imagine if you lost people in that blaze???

At the time I thought ‘why is that tower still in full view, it should be covered up to protect the people living nearby but also out of respect for the people that perished there.’

It is now essentially a gigantic ‘tomb in the sky.’

So I was pleased to hear last week; 4 months after the terrible, horrific events of the Grenfell Tower fire, the authorities have finally decided to cover up the tower in protective material to shield it from the eyes of the public.

But work on this will not be completed until early 2018!!

There are so many reasons why this needs to be done. And so many reasons why this should have started months ago.

No one can really imagine the true horror of witnessing the fire, which was a rather prolonged horrific event that continued for hours. 

For those who knew people that lived in the tower, the horror must be beyond any stretch of your worst nightmare. 

And to be helpless. For hours. 

I would imagine that many of the survivors and witnesses may have already or could, in the future, develop Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. Some of factors that contribute to PTSD are reliving the events and exposure to the place where it happened. 

Part of their recovery will be hindered by constantly having to view the tower in all its horrifying enormity every day.

So how can they recover? Why has this not been done sooner.

A month ago I went to The World Transformed Event where I met some Justice 4 Grenfell campaigners. They told us that only 5 families had been rehoused and that there had been around 50 suicide attempts. 

Which all points to my guess that there must be hundreds of people suffering from acute PTSD.

I decided to look into it, because let’s face it, the mainstream media have gone quiet over it. All I could find was that the local authority have a page set up advising people to go to their local Mind charity for support. And there is now a community hub to support witnesses and survivors.

But having had to use mental health services for my child recently, I know that the services are massively underfunded and under equipped to deal with the general population. Let alone the unprecedented amount of people suffering after a major tragedy.

Seeing the support that is offered now (and I do not claim to know if everyone has been offered support, or whether it is adequate) I can only hope that this is enough and that this support doesn’t just stop. With austerity raging on it is something we can only hope for. This support will be needed for years to come and sometimes PTSD can be delayed. 

So many questions need to be answered, aside from the obvious:

Why are people not being rehoused? And when I say rehoused I mean in permanent , suitable accommodation?

Why has it taken so long to even start covering up the tower? 

Or for anyone to even acknowledge that this needed to be done?

Why has the tower that still holds remains of the poor souls that perished inside the tower, not been covered straight away as a mark of respect and to protect the evidence inside the tower from the elements of weather and decay?

When I met those Grenfell campaigners, when I stood at the housing talk and gave a minutes silence to remember the dead, and when I drove past that tower in tears I made a silent promise to them and everyone affected by it:

I will never forget you and I will never stop seeking Justice 4 Grenfell.

And I urge you to all do the same. In the words of Martin Luther King Jr:

“Injustice anywhere is a threat to Justice everywhere.”



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Happiness: A Basic Human Right? Not According To The Tories By Eddie Luigi 

By Eddie Luigi 


Let me make this clear from the start. Generally I am happy and content. 

I view happiness as a three legged stool, with happiness as the seat and the three legs of home, health and an honest wage for an honest job.
Any of you who have studied psychology will be aware of Maslow and his hierarchy of needs. 

Which in a nutshell means until you have achieved the basic needs you cannot go on to achieve any of the more humanistic needs. 



The basic needs at the bottom of the hierarchy are food, water, warmth, rest security and safety. Without these essentials it is impossible to proceed up the hierarchy and achieve happiness and fulfil ones potential.


It’s like a game of ‘snakes and ladders’ sometimes you’re going up and sometimes you go down and have to start the climb again.

So, my view is that, until you have the basics of home, health and an honest wage, you can’t even begin to think about happiness. Then if one of those three legs of the stool is missing, happiness comes tumbling down.

But since the tories came to power in 2010, millions of people in England are struggling to gain the basic needs. Hard to believe but the figures do not lie:

4,134 sleeping rough ( up 134% since tories got in 2010) in England.
Almost 1.2 million needed emergency three day food parcels.

250,000 as registered homeless in England.

Around 4 million private renting in England. Most of these will have yearly or month to month contracts, with no basic security. 

That is a lot of people that can’t reach a happy state, or fulfil their potential.

Many self help books advise you to simplify and find happiness in the little everyday things.
This does not seem good advice if you have no home and your day is taken up by wondering where you can sleep safely tonight. 

Nor does it help if your physical or mental health means that your day is taken up wondering if you can be cured, or taken up trying to overcome the splinter in your mind that feeds the self doubts about your looks, your weight, your usefulness or your worth. 

That advice must surely be ignored if after you honest day’s work your ‘honest’ day’s wage, topped up by social welfare, is still not enough to meet your budgetary needs for housing, feeding and clothing your family.

I fear that in our current political situation not everyone will have the three stool legs necessary to think about happiness.




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Grenfell : Neglect, Shock and the Idea Some Lives Are Worth More Than Others By Grehan

By Kelly Grehan 

It is now 100 days since the Grenfell fire.

In the days following the tragedy the emotion that overwhelmed me was anger that this had happened, and that although maybe the fire was not preventable, the loss of life was compounded by decisions taken in the name of austerity, deregulation, outsourcing and a general disregard for the economically poorer members of the community.  
As London Mayor Sadiq Khan said at the time “There is a feeling from the community that they’ve been treated badly because some of them are poor, some of them may come from deprived backgrounds, some of them may be asylum-seekers and refugees.”
As is now well known Grenfell Action Group warned the council and the estate management company of multiple fire hazards within the building including failing alarms, a lack of sprinklers and of faulty electrical wiring causing frequent power surges and small fires. They warned that the wholly cosmetic refurbishment of the building was a serious fire risk. 

Rather than heed these warnings the council responded with legal action against the group. 

For several decades now a denouncement of regulation has taken place. Phrases like ‘health and safety gone mad’ and ‘red tape’ are common. Free market think-tanks, such as the Institute of Economic Affairs and the Centre for Policy Studies and property developers lobby government against regulation.
In recent years it has become apparent that poorer people are no longer welcome in the Capital.

For example the demolition of social housing estates, such as the Heygate estate in Southwark, has made way for luxury flats with many bought by super-rich investors. Plots are often sold abroad in Asia or the Middle East prior to domestic sales.

The £83.7 million of cuts in Kensington since 2010 have disproportionately impacted servicers relied upon by poorer people. 

This includes closure of nurseries, of homelessness prevention schemes, of local A&E departments and in a move that says it all to me, there is an attempt to sell a public Library to a nearby fee-paying Prep School.

I can only conclude that the safety, health and quality of life of those in rented accommodation is seen as a secondary concern to profit. 

Last year, an amendment to the Housing Act tabled by Labour to introduce a legal requirement for landlords to ensure their homes are fit and safe for human habitation was voted down by Tory MPs including 71 who were themselves private landlords.



So the catastrophe that has occurred in Kensington causing, death, destruction, injury, trauma and displacement should not be dismissed as an accident. 

It is the culmination of policy and neglect aimed at those whose lives are regarded as less valuable. 

This is seen as unbelievable by those unfamiliar with being on the receiving end of policies designed to ‘punish’ those who are not high earners or wealth accumulators. But the circumstances and outcome of Grenfall are repeated throughout the world in places where neoliberalism rules. 

One such example is Hurricane Katrina which occurred, causing mass flooding in New Orleans in August 2005. It is easy to see it as a natural disaster, but that is to ignore the neglect in maintenance of the flood defences which should have protected the city from what was actually a tropical storm by the time it reached New Orleans. Despite previous repeated warnings the Army Corp of Engineers allowed the defences to fall into disrepair. 

This happened in the context of a neglect of infrastructure throughout America as neoliberal policies gained control. But is also relevant that the homes left the most vulnerable by the failure to fix the levees were those occupied by economically poor black people.  

After the storm it took five days to get water and food to people sheltering in the Superdome. In common with Grenfell people did what they could to help each other but, again in common with Grenfell the state failed. 

Divisions formed along class and racial lines. Healthy people of means were able to leave the city – others – vulnerable by nature of being unable to leave – stayed. 

As people began looting to survive, news outlets used the opportunity to paint the black residents as dangerous. A war zone atmosphere emerged as vigilantes and private security guards ‘’controlled’’ the streets. Survivors of Grenfell now speak of being let down by the council, living in transit in crowded hotel rooms, some without hot water.  

My concern in Kensington now is what happens next: Milton Friedman once said ‘Only a crisis-actual or perceived- produces real change.’ 

In New Orleans , with residents dispersed across the country and schools and homes in ruins; Friedman described this as an ‘opportunity’. Public housing, including that which was undamaged was demolished and replaced with housing far out of the price reach of those who had previously lived there. 

Mike Pence (now Us Vice president) chaired a meeting 14 days post disaster to look at ‘Pro-Free-Market Ideas for Responding to Hurricane Katrina.’ New Orleans quickly became the place with the most privately run schools.  



There must be real concern that Grenfell residents and those living in surrounding blocks are able to remain in the area in suitable accommodation. 

Any suggestion that people should be grateful for what they are offered should not be tolerated. 

Counselling and therapy services need to be offered as standard to anyone in the area impacted by what has occurred. Let us not forget many witnessed horrendous scenes and have lost friends.  
History, though leads to concerns that enquiries and cover ups can go on for decades. There is something about this situation which feels like Hillsborough to me, a feeling that the fight for justice here will not be easy and that nothing will change without a real fight.  

Indeed lessons could have been learnt after the Lakanal Tower block Fire in Southwark in 2009 which killed 6. 

Recommendations followed in 2013 but were never implemented, including one to fit sprinkler systems in all tower blocks. 

Lessons about outsourcing, which leads to responsibility and ultimately blame being diluted must be examined. But more than anything I hope we see a change in this attitude that some lives are worth more than others and that profit is worth endangering life for.

Everyone needs to stand up for this for us to have any hope of change.
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Mental Health ‘Care’ is Not What you Might Expect By The Masked Avenger Anonymous 

Author Anonymous

* Please note trigger warning ( suicide) *


I’ve been detained under the MHA (Mental Health Act) twice within the last two years. I will describe my own experience of my last admission. 


I have 3 mental health diagnosis, an eating disorder in which I have a lot of fear foods plus an allergy to wheat and gluten, I have PTSD for which I can be triggered and recurrent depressive disorder. The latter means that my mental health fluctuates in waves going from a flat enjoying nothing mode in which I manage to function and maintain normal acts of daily living such as getting up and out of bed, washing and dressing and eating the foods I will eat. 

I have a fear of phones but keep in touch with my 2 friends and 2 of my children by text and I will talk to my GP on the phone.

 
In the low periods despite attempts to change I can’t gather the energy to get out of bed apart from loo trips. I don’t wash or dress, my eating varies and I withdraw from the world and push people away. I spend most of my awake hours crying, and honing down my suicide plan to the final piece as I lose all hope that I’ll ever get better and the emotional pain is so intense I’m unable to cope with it. 

On this occasion my care coordinator had visited me and said that she would be requesting a MHA assessment and left the house. I paced around crying having found my first hospital admission awful and not wanting to go again. I wanted to take my overdose to end my life but thought the MHA crew would appear and save me and I didn’t want to be saved.

Eventually at 8pm, eight hours after my care coordinator had left, I managed to phone the out of hours team to find out what was going on and I was informed that the MHA assessment was booked for 10am the following morning. With this information I believed I had the time needed to end my life and took most of the tablets in my bedside drawer. A mixed overdose of about 8 drugs but including tricyclic drugs I’d previously stored at a time I was prescribed them. 

I lay on the bed fully clothed in clothes I’d been in 24/7 for several days. I didn’t expect to wake up. I remember nothing from that moment to waking on a ward in the medical hospital. 

It transpired that the 2 doctors and AMHP had arrived and not being able to obtain entry asked a neighbour (who has been nasty to me since I moved here so I avoid him) to climb in my bedroom windows and let them in. They couldn’t rouse me so I was taken to hospital where I woke later. It was a couple of months before discovering my neighbour had been in my bedroom and was aware as he gleefully told my daughter about it. 

What happened after…

So the MHA assessment took place in the medical hospital at 2am the morning after I was found and I was detained under section 2. I remained in this hospital for a further 36 hours as there were no beds. My bed was an observation bay right by the nurses station, the lights were on full there all night but I wasn’t allowed to draw the curtains for shade so I could sleep so I didn’t manage to sleep at all in that light. 

I was then transferred to the psychiatric hospital acute ward and shown my room. There I stayed in bed, still fully clothed completely covered in a sheet apart from loo trips for over a week. I cried the whole time and if I slept during the night I don’t remember it. I was aware of every hourly check from staff looking through the bedroom door all day and all night. 

Once or twice people put a plate of food on the bedside table and left it there but the food was all my fear foods as was everything in the canteen so I ate practically nothing during my whole stay. 



After a week and a bit I asked whether it would be possible to be taken home to collect some clothes as I’d been wearing the outfit I’d been detained in day and night since. I asked every day but was told there were no available staff to do so. On day 12 I went to the ward manager’s office and said how long I’d been in my clothes and how I needed things from home. Within an hour a member of staff took me and I collected night clothes, another outfit and toiletries. After this time I started to go into the lounge occasionally but was frightened of 3 ladies on the ward, 2 of which had major anger problems and 1 was extremely unwell and very unpredictable.

One of the ladies with anger issues later told me she didn’t want to be discharged as her partner was violent and she had nowhere else to live so every time discharge was talked about, she’d deliberately kick off meaning her discharge was delayed. She assured me she’d be there months. 

The canteen was terrifying for me. I’m frightened of men and the dining room was shared with the male ward. Many of the men behaved badly making obscene suggestions as well as throwing chairs etc. 

There was no food I could eat anyway so sometimes I’d grab a banana from the fruit bowl and immediately go back to the ladies ward. This satisfied the staff I was eating and the staff in the dining room could tick me off their list. Sometimes I’d take a bite of the banana but usually didn’t and would bury it under paper towels in the bin back on the ward.  
One teenager cut herself so badly during the night she was whisked off with the 2 qualified members of staff to A&E in the adjacent hospital. They never returned so no one could have medication and the following day the consultant was at the main hospital too. The teenager never returned, I’ve no idea if she survived. The things from her room were bagged up and taken away from the ward. 

Apart from a mindfulness session every weekday morning nothing else was on offer. I didn’t go to the sessions due to fear of the men but I have done mindfulness to death in the community and despite hours and hours of practice find it never helps me at all. But for some reason mental health professionals think it cures all psychiatric ills and it’s the only therapy I’ve been offered in the community in my 7 years with them. 



During my weeks on the ward I only ever saw one qualified nurse in the lounge, sitting and talking to patients. She’d bring her laptop in to write up her notes on Rio but would talk to patients alongside this. She was really nice, I’ve heard she’s left now which is sad. The only times I saw qualified staff was at the hatch to the medicine room as they dished out tablets. Apart from those times they stayed in the ward office and we never saw them. I had a named nurse who I never met. 

There were 2 or 3 health care assistants who were visible and about the ward, they were all male but we’re quiet and calm so I was able to cope with them with no problems at all and one in particular was kind. 

I was discharged feeling no better. At home my dining table was covered in piles of thing labelled with who they were to go to, and 3 envelopes containing letter to my children. 

On my discharge notes it said I’d spent the first 10 days asleep in bed!! So all those days I’d cried day and night barely catching snatches of sleep, I was apparently asleep the whole time. 

The thing is no one ever talks to you or asks you anything so they guess and assume and that’s the basis of their paperwork. My diagnosis was even better, it was factitious disorder which totally shocked me once I’d looked it up. Fortunately both the community CMHT (Community Mental Health Team) and my GP said that was total rubbish. CMHT told me that hospital consultant is renowned for his bizarre and incorrect diagnosis. Useful. Not. The only thing that kept me sane there was my weekly phone call from my GP. She’d listen to what was happening, how I was feeling and what was being said and she’d spend 30-45 minutes helping me make sense of it all and help me see things from a different perspective. Ironic really that the only helpful member of staff during my time there was my GP back at my surgery! To me that ward is nothing but a holding cell. 

Therapy would be good as would be some interaction with qualified staff or your named nurses. And it seems when someone is detained and needs a bed, the patient on the ward they deem to be the least risk is immediately discharged, better or not, to make room for the new arrival. Because I was quiet and not disruptive, that was me.

I hope one day that I’ll be offered some therapy from the community team. But I’ve asked for CBT or a psychological assessment several times and the answer has always been no. I want to leave CMHT as I’ve found little helpful and they’re not proactive but my GP encourages me to stay with them because with my recurrent depressive disorder I get low, and when I get low I get very very low and lose all hope. But I have no intention of going back into that hospital again, no help is available there and the diagnosis you come out with is fictitious in itself.

This was written for you by a Masked Avenger. A Masked Avenger could be any one of our regular writers, a group of writers or a guest writer. Written to bring you uninhibited truths that need to be told.

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