17 Years In Bermondsey 1.2.2018

My South London

Mervelee Myers

 News Story of the Week

As I was coming from the East Street Market pulling my shopping trolley along in the pouring rain. I could see that the traffic was piling up and slowing down at the traffic lights as there are some Marchers – The March For Homes. From the leaflet I was given I could see they were covering some of the local areas of St Mary’s Churchyard, Newington Butts, Elephant and Castle SE1 6SQ. I put my trolley at the side of the road, got my camera out to get some pictures of the proceedings of course and I was handed a leaflet. Since most of the marchers had gone on ahead, I only got a few, but the one at the end did resonate with me… This was a house made out of what I am assuming is cardboard depicting Social Housing.

This took me back to a time in my life when I was feeling vulnerable as I was left homeless. My homelessness came about from years of experiencing domestic violence and deciding for once in my life that I was going to stand up to the perpetuator. Since I decided for once that I was going to stand up and fight for my rights not to be abused and stop from being the victim. I almost ended up being hurt physically if it was not for the interventions of another person who was present. That other person was my sister-in-law. If I did not treat my sister-in-law with respects, I doubt whether she would be so willing to defend me from her brother? I am forever grateful for that person who was there for me in my times of need.

I lived a sheltered life, living with my family before coming to the UK. And even when I started experiencing domestic violence I just thought I could not cope on my own. It’s not easy for me especially with my background to be put in such a situation like been made homeless, without anyone to turn to for support. However when push comes to shove, that is when the coping mechanisms kicked in. Along with the fright, fight or flight theory that did come into play. We end up being bullied and discriminated against for the rest of our lives, if we do not stop being afraid and letting the bullies getting away.

On this day in particular I made use of all three (3) fright, fight or flight, to get me through my plight. There were other professionals involved, after I bring my plight to the Police. Seventeen years later, befitting my hoarder status I still have my Crime Number: 1239892/0013. Reported on 8/9/2000 at Brixton Police Station – Metropolitan Police. If You Have Any Enquiries Relating To This Crime You can Contact The Crime Desk Direct on (8) 649. Now for those of you who don’t realise, these are linked to my Mental Health Conditions and Diseases. Although I have always said I have Parkinson’s disease, no one would accept I have disabilities. Because I did not have a diagnosis, but end up with a diagnosis for Chronic Anxiety in July 2006.

I had registered with Lambeth Housing and have the correspondence dated 8/9/1999 when I had just finished studies with Lambeth College. I immediately started working in the Early Years Sector, as I was head hunted from college. By 16/04/2000 I was contacted again with the intention of removing my name from the housing register. Overall I can say that my experiences with the establishment and systems is not the most favourable over the years. Resulting from my experiences of domestic violence, I was put in contwact with Victim Support. I was determined not to go back to my husband as I could not trust a person who threatened my life and it could have been worse if my sister-in-law was not present.

I was advised to find somewhere safe as a refuge, and some were recommened. I was rescued and living in a refuge. I had an Agreement with Southwark Women’s Aid of 16 Relf Road, London SE15 (Registered Charity Number 271785). I was accommodated in the Borough of Southwark, because after interviews to get housing I did not qualify in Lambeth. I did not fall into any of the criteria – not pregnant, have a disability, etc. But I did have disabilities, from my childhood. But no one would listen because I did not have a diagnosis. And even though my name was on the Lambeth Council Housing list they could not offer me any support.

I was given a list of private home providers and eventually ended up in one of the refugees in Southwark London. I was allocated a key person who worked with me until I found a home to live. I was advised to take actions against the perpetuator of the domestic violence, but chose not to. I guess I am and will always be a naïve person. That person who took people at face value and never think about doing anything to anyone to make their lives a living hell? I do believe that I am blessed and protected by the spirits of my family who are looking out for me. I consider myself lucky in certain aspects, and have the blessings from my parents to be thankfull for.

Because after no time I was lucky to get my own flat and I am still living here 14+ years later. I am still living in the Housing For Women premises and grateful to be a tenant. My Tenancy Agreement was signed in December 2000 and I am looking forward to spending the rest of my time in the UK here. Then hopefully I can return to my country of origin, Jamaica. Glad for the opportuntity to have lived in social housing, when I was made homeless as a result of domestic violence. I was one of the lucky ones to be in employment, holding down two jobs, full time as a Nursery Nurse and part time as a Contract Cleaner.

I am sure that being in employment helped my case in securing the flat as I could pay my way and not be dependent on Social Services. My husband tried his best to get me back under his influence. He sent me letters, gifts and asks relatives and friends to speak to me, but I was having none of it. This was made worse when I realise he just wanted me to leave the refuge, so I have no place to live. He was already planning to send for his woman who he used to visit annually. After three (3+) months in the refuge I got my flat through one of the Housing Associations that provided Social Housing for persons in my situation.

However I was confronted with the dilemma of having to pay two (2) rents. The time I have to start paying rent on the flat would overlap with rent for the refuge. I made the decision to move out of the refuge into the flat even though I did not have any of the basic amenities. At the time I was still doing two (2) jobs – early morning cleaning and my other full time as a Nursery Nurse to make ends meet. Therefore because I did not have much time to spare, I moved into the empty flat and started off sleeping on the floor. I spread lots of newspaper and layers of clothing on the floor to protect me from the cold and just got on with it. This was nothing new for me, as anyone who grew up in the West Indies like I did and is from my era can testify to such an experience.

I ordered my bed on my way to work and waited for the delivery and set it up as soon as it arrived. My next door neighbour was a tower of strength and still is to this day all these years later. Update: My neighbour TESS has since died and I have to try my best to get her the support that she needed in the end. But Social Services did not live up to their responsibilities and I am still upset, coming up to another annivesary of her passing. I still have one of the messages from Social Services as reminder of how TESS was let down by the systems. We shared much in common and both experienced Mental Health Conditions. That’s why I respected her wishes when she expressed she needed her space to deal with her issues.

Because I moved into the flat in December 2000, I ended up having takeaways as I have  no cooker, and other basic amenities. One of my friends who knew of my plight invited me to spend Christmas with her family. Where I could enjoy the festive seasons that I was accustomed to. I count myself lucky when one of the refuge centres was closing down in Peckham and I was given a few things to furnish my flat. The cooker is still serving me well, seventeen (17) years later. Although I have gotten rid of some of the other stuff. I am sentimental about a small child’s chair that I consider one of the first things that I owned in my life. It has pride of place in my bathroom to help me with managing and controlling my progressive health conditions linked to my disabilities.

I have to accept that our upbringings are totally responsible for the persons we eventually become. Some of my grandparents and parents traits are intact in me. I am a hoarder like my older folks. I find it hard to part with things that I believe others can benefit from. Growing up without having some of the basics of life that others took for granted have had a great impact on my outlook on life. That is why I fight so hard to hang on to some of the things that I cherish and which mean so much to me. I refuse to take anything in life for granted and is forever trying to uplift myself to break the cycle of poverty that held me back for a significant period of my life.

I don’t want the circumstances in which I was born to become the outcomes of my life. That’s why I am trying my best to empower myself to bring about change for my family and I. Update: Since coming to the UK in 1992, I am more than proud of my achievements in empowering myself. Helping my family to better themselves and giving my sons and their families the best of the financial capitals. But since the death of my mother who experienced dementia, I have had my childhhood traumas triggered into Post Traumatic Stress Disorder by the former employers http://www.leyf.org.uk. The http://www.justice.gov.uk/tribunals/employment/claims/responding, presided over another miscarriages of justice.

On the leaflet I got I can see Diane Abbott MP listed as one of the speakers for a discussion on Tuesday 10th February 2015 at Venue: Walworth Methodist Church, 54 Camberwell Rd, London SE5 OEW. I have spent last week getting photos from the Politics Show of her and others as I intend to do a feature. So now I can go and see her in person and hear her views about some of the social matters that are important to me in my area of South London. Since my job was taken away by LEYF and the ET affirm  the discrimination with the judgement online at https://www.gov.uk/employment-tribunal-decisions/ms-m-myers-v-london-early-years-foundation-2300047-2016, I have my life turned upside down.

Seeing the adverts for Diane Abbott reminded me of the time when I went to one of my Housing Association Annual General Meeting and had the fortune to listen to the Rev Rose Hudson Wilkins talking about her life growing up in Jamaica. Strangely enough she talked about the times when she had to spread her bed on the floor to sleep too. I realised we had similar upbringings, but anyone from that era in Jamaica can share their stories about such upbringings. I was in for an even bigger surprise when we were mingling after the meeting and she asked where in Jamaica I am from.

It turned out that we share some things in common other than our upbringings. Her family and mine are from the local area and her grandmother and my mum are related. During her speech she said she would be going to Jamaica to get recordings of her mother telling of her life story to start writing her Memoirs. Each time I witness events like this March along the Road in my local South London, the memories of my life whether good or bad comes back and I have no alternatives but to remember aspects of my life.

Times are certainly changing because I recalled on my first visit to the UK. When I returned and shared my experiences of seeing people living on the streets it was hard for some to believe it. However almost ending up homeless myself was just another of the experiences in my life that helped me to understand more about some of the issues that we all have to deal with at some stages during our lives. However I am finding that some of us are very insensitive to the diverse and complex needs of their brothers, sisters and fellow human being. In times of crisis, we are living in a world where dwag nyam dwag and no one gives a Toss! But how can this be RIGHT?

Only God alone has the answers to any of these queries for which I am still searching. No one knows where it will all end as there are so many things happening in this world for which there don’t seem to be an answer. I have to say my experiences since the death of my mother is a testament to how social injustices and inequalities are allowed to be metered out to the most vulnerable amongst us and some are prepared to turn a blind eye for fear of retributions. If in doubt just check the reviews on http://www.leyf.org.uk websites that tell the same stories I have presented to the Employment Tribunal about the discrimination I faced in two workplaces.

Yet the ET is prepared to bury their head in the sand and join in with the discrimination. I was part of Dr Maria Hudson 2012 Research Paper Ref: 01/12 recommended to ACAS: research@acas.org.uk and http://www.acas.org.uk/researchpapers. That’s why I have booked my place for the http://www.nurseryworldshow.com/london to mingle with those who are prepared to turn a blind eye and forget their moral compass as they put profit before humanity in reaching managerial targets. I am flying solo as everyone seem ashamed to be associated with me. But I know who I am and don’t expect any favours from anyone.

My red chair that I got when I first moved into my flat has remained a sense of security and stability as one of the first thing I owned.

One thought on “17 Years In Bermondsey 1.2.2018

  1. I am looking forward to the time when I am ready to pack my things and go back home to Jamaica. However I am greatful for the opportunities. That’s why I am breaking down barriers and seeking justice for all who face discrimination.

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