I didn't think things could get much worse for us. They have.
Earlier this week we received some post. Some rather unpleasant post. We have been served Notice to Quit the hostel in which we currently live by 6 June.
I was slightly comforted by the fact the letter arrived on Friday 3 May and yet we didn't receive it until Tuesday. You see, it was Harry's 3rd Birthday on 3rd May. The post doesn't usually get delivered here until around 3pm. It is delivered to a communal mailbox, the staff sort it out and then we head to the office to collect it usually. Except on Friday. I popped into the office before going out, explained it was Harry's birthday and therefore could all post be put under our door for our return. The staff don't work weekends or Bank Holidays. This particular piece of post wasn't given to us (whilst personal, handwritten post was put under our door) until Tuesday because the staff were mindful of the fact that over the course of a long weekend, there wouldn't actually be anything either myself or Dean, or in fact anyone could do! Save for shed a few more tears. A small gesture which felt so very human during a process which is littered with filling tick boxes and nameless, faceless people.
A few hours after reading that letter, I decided I had cried enough. Those that know me will know I am emotional but then I remembered, crying wouldn't do anything. To ignore a problem wasn't going to make it go away and somehow, anyhow, I had to try and maintain a roof over my son's head. My first port was to call the Social Worker we have had contact with recently, following Harry's accident and trip to A&E. She had seemed nice enough and we had previously been told that should the Council decide they no longer have a duty to house us then Social Services would help, would have to help due to Harry's age. I was informed that the worst case scenario, should we be unable to find somewhere to live prior to 9 June, Social Services could get an order which would mean Harry could be taken into care. She did also advise me to contact Shelter, keep bidding under Bristol City Council's Home Choice (for which we STILL do not have a bidding reference number!) and to be honest with any friends or family who may be in a position to help us, even if it meant splitting the family up.
My next stop, I decided, was our Health Visitor. Again, we have had minimal contact with her, save from when we initially moved into the hostel which I believe is standard procedure when you are deemed homeless. This Health Visitor was the person who made the referral for Harry to start at nursery a full term before he would usually be entitled to the funding. She had much the same to say as the Social Worker but also offered to pay a visit in a few days.
On Thursday, the Health Visitor came around. She gave us a referral to a local charity which gives away food. Food you can choose yourself to suit your own tastes and dietary requirements, although this is only short term (six weeks) it will no doubt help enormously with regard to sticking money to one side to fund a move. They also offer advice on budgeting, looking at where we could cut back for now and the future. The HV also mentioned that Harry's nursery have staff that know a lot about the benefits system, who could help to make sure we can have access to all the benefits and grants that are available so I have email the family liason there to request a meeting. After picking up Harry from nursery on Thursday, I was in tears again, considering to pull him out as he had spent the whole two hours crying, as he had done every day that week. So on Friday we decided to have a family day at home.
Some Positive News Today!
Today we went to Shelter whilst Harry was at nursery. The lady we spoke to was fairly optimistic that we have several options and said that she is going to spend the next few days reading up on case law and also suggested that there are, or should be grants/interest free loans open to us. It would seem the main grounds for at least an extension or some assistance, is the fact that I am about to have some pretty major surgery. How one is meant to recover from surgery when street homeless is any one's guess.
On the plus side, today I also got notification of my acceptance of DLA, the higher rate mobility allowance. Not only has it finally been recognised that actually, I can barely walk but the money will be back dated from my initial application in January. When that comes through, that will be set to one side to go towards finding somewhere to live.
I am lucky though.
Despite it feeling like life can't get much harder, I am aware that it could. I know that, whilst my HV says she has never seen it happen, my son could be taken into care. I am aware that I have amazing family and friends who would do everything in their power to ensure that doesn't happen and sadly, so so many people don't have that. I know I won't be street homeless and we won't lose our son. Yet it is still a concern in such an uncertain world.
As ever, thank you for listening. If you got this far.