Month: January 2012

‘Endless Summers’. For Dad from Dawni

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Endless Summers (for Dad)

I adored those times,
But I know they’ll never come back.
You would walk and
I would secretly follow.
No shoes.

You always knew,
And when tired –
You’d carry me back
Only us two
Yellow soft sand.

Miles and miles of
Sweet Memories
Returned to me today
In music.

Only a child.
Always my father.
Ever small.
Forever safe.

Copyright Dawn Willis
March 1st 2004
(Inspiration “In a Silent Way” Miles Davis)

‘OH’ #MindGlue

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Bee Hold,
or probably
Beeing Held
By ‘mind’ Glue
by Dawni

‘#Smacking – not on my watch!’ by Dawn, a survivor of childhood abuse. #mhuk

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For me it’s about respect, I respect my children too much to think about inflicting physical or mental pain as punishment.

I cannot understand a country which allows me to hit someone physically weaker and smaller than myself without facing legal recourse, but would prosecute me for hitting some ‘guy in the street’? How can this country condone the truamatising of children through physical abuse?
We are outraged by stories of ‘wife beating’, we open refuges for  ‘adults’ who are harmed by their spouses, we encourage these ‘grown ups ‘to prosecute their abuser and increasing these bullies receive custodial sentences……!! Why aren’t we similarly horrified by scenes of brutalised children? Why aren’t we encouraging them to leave home and run to a local authority run safe house? Why aren’t we drumming it into children that physical abuse is never acceptable and should never be an option and that if their parents hit them, then that is wrong and that hitting anyone else would be considered assault and would carry a possible custodial sentence?

I can only assume that ‘hitting’ children is a widepread norm in this country, and that behind closed doors in hundreds of thousands of streets in Britain parents enforce rules and express their displeasure through physical violence. If these same abusers were to find that within their own daily lives they did something that another adult didn’t like they would be smacked across the arse, clipped around the ear and that no-one would care, they would soon be demanding laws to protect them.

The Government must be aware that if they did outlaw the hitting of children by parents then the current legal system would be ill eqipped to deal with the huge influx of prosectutions, and that the Child Protection teams within local authority Social Services departments would overwhelmed. The Goverment obviously has no intention of spending any more money on the provision of services for children at risk through increased social services facilities and legal services.


(I’m the parent of thee children raised on respect and not rampant hell-raisers)

#LHA: Rich landlords will play the system and tenants will lose. #WRB #hardesthit #Devon

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It started with a phone call last night: “Mum I told them I was going to be moving out, and now they’ve changed the locks and sold my stuff”.  That was from my 22-year-old son, who had been living in a ‘house-share’. A 3 bed-maisonette.

It was a convenient place to live, close to work and with a colleague. He moved in early December, with the verbal agreement that it would cost him £300 a month for a room, this is in the South Hams area of Devon, renowned for high rents, and quite often reported on as an area where young people have been born and grown up, but where they are forced to move away from because they can’t afford to live there. It’s a second home owner retreat.

He would be sharing with a colleague and his wife, and another young lady. It became apparent quite quickly that things were not as easy as they had agreed. The property was not owned by anyone living there, the colleague and his wife were ‘tenants’ and were subletting rooms. No paperwork was involved. When I expressed concerns my son brushed them aside saying that his colleague was a ‘mate’, no need for all that.

Within a couple of weeks he was disillusioned. He said that despite his ‘mate’s’ assurances, he wasn’t allowed to play any music after 9pm, because the other sharer ‘goes to bed at 9′. He would be expected to pay another £70 becuase the bills were higher than they’d initially thought. My son very quickly began to spend less and less time there and after Christmas, when his girlfriend had stayed for 3 nights, and they asked for £40 for ‘electricity’ he decided that this wasn’t the place for him.  He wasn’t eating in the communal kitchen, he wasn’t comfortable in the lounge because he said that when he entered the ‘couple’ would start speaking their native language. He wasn’t turning the heating on in the bedroom because the couple told him it was too expensive, and there was mould behind his bed, and smoke from their wood burning fire would fill his room at night.

He, and a couple of friends, all working, decided they’d look for somewhere else, and found a property they could share which would cost them £170 each a month, a massive saving. Again it is close to work. They have a tenancy agreement.

He was very worried about telling these people he was leaving, and kept putting it off. He was getting into arrears because he was fronting up cash for rent/deposit on the new property, and I encouraged him to tell them last Friday, as he was going away to spend some time at his Girlfriend’s house. I said that it would mean he felt less uncomfortable and perhaps they would have calmed down by the time he returned Sunday.

Last night we got that call.

I telephoned the Police, who unsurprisingly played their “it’s a civil matter” card, even though I said that these people had alleged to have ‘sold’ his belongings. They suggested he go somewhere else and then get a solicitor the next day. I sent out a ‘tweet’ and was astounded by the response from people, one of whom turned out to be a property lawyer. His advice was wonderful.

We managed to speak with the people in the house, who when confronted with the possibility that they had acted unlawfully in selling my Sons belongings admitted they had not. Nor had they changed the locks, they’d just made it impossible for him to get in. After some peaceful, calm negotiation we were able to remove my Son’s property, we called the Police to ensure we were acting in accordance to the law, and despite of some ‘ill feeling’ on both sides it was completed relatively amicably.

Keys were handed over independently, and after the people in the house agreed that my Son was leaving it in a satisfactory condition.

This entire situation highlights what I believe will become a growing issue in which single people, forced into house shares by housing benefit regulations will find themselves at the mercy of unscrupulous people.

My son was sharing with older people, a couple with some spare rooms. They wanted the cash, but they didn’t want a single young man with an active social life, who works in a bar and comes in late. They said he has use of all amenities, but made him feel so uncomfortable he lived in his bedroom. Without clear written agreements and rules, he was faced with demands for extra money.   His situation is not going to be unusual, it will become a common theme.

People with spare rooms will find a niche, a little bit of spare cash coming in. Agreements between ‘mates’ will happen. Unscrupulous landlords will fill up houses in disrepair, cashing in on new rules which could see them gaining a fortune in housing benefit from single people.

In the South Hams alone:

Weekly LHA is £63.50 for unemployed person (Feb 2011)

A landlord with a four bedroom property can therefore make £254 a week from renting to four people. He doesn’t have to supply them with anything other than supply them with the property. Tenants will be paying gas, electricity, and water supply costs themselves. Landlord is laughing all the way to the bank with over £1000 a month of taxpayers money.

In many cases that figure is more in rental income than a Landlord would normally have made by renting to a family in receipt of housing benefit.

Has the Government merely opened up a loophole in which we will see 3 and 4 bedroom family sized properties made available only to single person unemployed sharers, and will we see a huge increase in families in unable to find a home to rent?

The Government spin has allowed press to peddle myths around ‘scrounging families in high rental properties’ yet people too readily forget it is the Landlord who sets the rent, and the Landlord who has the power.

Cameron’s rhetoric around LHA (Local Housing Allowances) forcing down private rents is a nonsense..

Rich landlords will play the system and tenants will lose.