Today I joined some other bloggers to lend fellow blogger Clara from I Want My Mummy a painting hand following last week’s Help post. I had seen Clara’s photo of the council house that her family had been given but I thought I’d take my own. Bear in mind that Clara has received the maximum £25 per room decorating allowance vouchers – that’s to cover decorating stuff so stuff to clean the rooms, decorate, varnish the floorboards and so on. Have a look at these and see what you think … and to keep things perfectly fair these are all unedited photos…
Above: (thanks to Lizzie for the photo!) Card on the kitchen windowsill with the graffiti that reads:
“Welcome to your new home prepared and presented in partnership by Norse Commercial Services and Norwich City Council”
Above: The Kitchen – New units fitted by the City Council. Artexed walls and ceilings that have heavy grease on large patches and rather charmingly bird excrement from the previous tennants birds (canaries judging by the yellow feathers and bird seed also stuck to the walls. Kitchen window still with graffiti and now 2 impact cracks where something has been thrown at it from the alley behind the house (the fence is still awaiting erection from the council so the property’s back garden is accessible by anyone)
Above: The bird excrement, without being too graphic it appears to have been there a while.
Above: The Back Garden – has been partly shingled over by the council (see photo below). This photo shows the alleyway to the left that runs behind the garden and the large section of fence (80% of the length of the back garden) that is missing. This is due to be fixed by the council.
Above: The Back Garden – the shingle that the council put down to cover the uneven ground.
Above: The Back Garden – This cable comes up through the ground in the middle of the back garden. No idea where it runs from or if it’s live. I assumed not but I wasn’t going to touch it just in case…
Above: Living Room – Clara and her husband have been hard at work stripping, filling and undercoating the walls. The floor appears to be some sort of stone tiles, of which many are cracked. They hope to buy some flooring with the money that people have been sending through this past week. In the corner on the right where Lizzie is stood smells strongly of urine, as does the cupboard under the stairs, inside the front door and a couple of corners upstairs.
Above: After a couple of hours our painting posse help to give the living room a coat of paint – we used 2.5 litres of paint giving this room 1 coat.
Above: Entrance / Hallway
Above: Stairway – Artext walls and ceiling, uses more than the average amount of paint.
Above: Clare paints the hallway.
Above: Bedroom #1 – Having been stripped and filled by Clara and her husband.
Above: Bedroom #1 – Large hole in need of much filler, plaster is loose in this corner. Damp on the ceiling.
Above: Bedroom #2 – Having been stripped and filled by Clara and her husband.
Above: Bathroom – Floor tiles stuck down very well indeed but some missing and some cracked and there’s a very strong smell of urine in this room. The Painting Posse gave the bathroom a coat of paint today also.
Above: Landing – I took this photo so that you can see the general state, cleanliness wise, of the walls on the landing.
25 litres of paint was used to day – and there is still 1 room to give the 1st coat to – all rooms need a 2nd coat of paint.
Clara and her family have not moved in to the property yet but are paying rent to the council because as far as the council are concerned it’s fit to be lived in.
I’m aware that Clara has had many emails of support this past week, but also a few less supportive, more critical emails. I’ve spoken to Clara about her circumstances today and she’s happy for me to share it here. I don’t believe that Clara needs to justify herself and her family to people however hearing their situation certainly made me stop, think and question ‘the system’.
Previously they lived in private rented accommodation until one day, with just a months notice their landlord informed them that he was going to sell the house and so their tenancy was to be terminated. Unable to afford a large deposit on another privately rented property they moved back to Clara’s parents. Having contacted the council they were offered this house. Being offered a council house doesn’t work like privately renting, there’s no picking and choosing, housing is hard to come by and it’s very much a ‘it’s this or nothing’ thing.
Clara’s husband doesn’t work, he can’t work at the moment because Clara’s Post Natal Depression means that he needs to look after Beans and help Clara. Sadly P.N.D is a mental illness and someone in Clara’s husbands position doesn’t qualify for any carers allowance. They claim Child Benefit and Tax Credits. Her husband won’t claim Jobseekers Allowance because he isn’t seeking a job, he can’t at the moment and he doesn’t want to ‘play the system’ for the extra money fraudulently. The money they have left over after rent and bills is barely enough to live on let alone spend on decorating and furnishing a house.
This isn’t about self-pity or about ‘getting stuff’ it’s about getting people to empathize more with people in Clara’s situation and to start questioning how the standards of properties let by councils across the country can wildy vary. It’s about questioning why many spouses and family members who can’t work due to a loved one’s mental health issues aren’t entitled to the help and support that those caring for a person with a physical disability. It’s about challenging how society perceives council housing and those living in it. And empathy… lots of empathy. And yes, if somehow it helps Clara and her family then that’s just peachy.
Today was hard to get my head around in terms of how much work needs doing, but it wasn’t all doom and gloom – when bloggers come together there’ll always be happy times too…
Thank you to Mummy Barrow for giving some gin-in-a-tin (a personal favourite) and to Lizzies husband for surprising us all with enormous ice-creams!
Big Thank You’s from today:
To Mummy Barrow for sending tins of gin, two cakes, an Argos voucher and a bag of goodies for Beans - plus loaning me her satnav whilst my mobile is broken.
To Cheetahs in Shoes for sending a fruit cake, cards, a box of toys for Beans, a scooter and easel and to her daughter Alice for making me pink flower shaped fudge to keep me going on the drive there (apparently is has enough sugar in to make me skip up Ben Nevis)
To The Mummy Whisperer for sending big tins of wood paint.
To BizzyBee for sending us a box of their cloths, scourers and rubber gloves. (Review to follow in the near future)
There are other people to thank from today, the organization that supplied paint, @CoffeeCurls who dropped some items in but I’m not sure what as my head was in paint at the time – I’ll say a proper thank you in the near future!
I’ll be heading back to help again next week and I’ll keep updating with progress over the next few weeks.
Thank you to everyone who has offered items, posted items, sent money, vouchers and support, it is all much appreciated and everyone will be thanked properly over the coming weeks -thank you all for being awesome x
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