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2015 summer of madness...

By summer 2015, I had started getting involved in street protesting. I attended a protest in Nottingham in 2014, organised by Mickey Summers, who wanted to hold Nottingham City Council accountable for historic CSA. The protest was based on a funeral, with Mickey being the grim reaper and the council being the 'death'. I was one of the 'mourners' dressed all in black with a black veil over my eyes. Although I had no personal issue with Nottingham City Council, it felt good to stand up to the authorities.

In July 2015, Mickey organised another Nottingham protest, this one more disruptive, involving a walk over Trent Bridge holding up the traffic. D wanted to join in, so after dropping B and K at a friend's in Gedling, me and D joined the protest.

Mickey and his good friend Nigel, were pillars of support in the protection conference that followed this protest, and it felt good to have some strong trusted back-up, against the corruption and targeting.

Mickeys relentless campaigning to expose Nottingham Council's cover up of past abuses in their care system helped bring the attention of the IICSA inquiry to Nottingham.

(RIP Mickey, you absolute legend)

Due to my stature (tall, slim), my propensity for sporting my long blonde hair in pigtails, my psychological education background and my 'psycho' reputation, I gained a nickname from a friend in London: HQ, or Harley Quinn, a character from the Batman comics. The film Suicide Squad wasn't released until the following year, so my only reference was the cartoon images of Harley Quinn, and I had to admit I did look a little like her. When my London mate sent me a meme, of me next to the cartoon, I started to look into her. The similarities were uncanny, particularly the psychological link and the long hair. I liked the nickname. I started telling people I'd just met, that my name was Harley, or HQ. It suited me.

Not long after the protection conference (in which child protection thresholds had not been met, and needs assessments were ordered), my broadband connection failed. My landline had also started clicking and dropping calls. We would be without internet connection for a couple of weeks, waiting for an engineer to visit.

As we were on really good terms with the other family on our road, I popped over to shyly ask if we could please jump on their broadband until ours was fixed. Of course we could, she assured me, and wrote their password on some scrap paper. We discussed the CCTV cameras at number 8, and shared our worries about what and who exactly, was being filmed. As the mother of a preschool age daughter, my friend was naturally concerned. There was also rumours in the village of a 'paedophile' living on another road close by. She was determined to do something about the cameras, but with enough attention focused on me over the conference, I didn't want to get involved. She understood. Like our previous neighbours in Nottingham, she couldn't understand why social services were so desperate to get involved with us. She even suggested starting a local petition, to stop the ongoing harassment by generating local support and awareness.

At the end of July, I took the boys to Withernsea Pirate Festival, it was a welcome distraction from the recent events.

K, D and B dressed as pirates

August 2015 unfortunately saw more drama. After being denied needs assessments by East Riding of Yorkshire children's disability team, due to the boys disabilities not being 'life-threatening or life-limiting', child protection social workers were hassling me to do a 'single' assessment. These single assessments are not for accessing disability support, they aren't designed to offer any support whatsoever, their only function is to highlight possible child protection issues. And they are designed in such a way that there is never a 'correct' way of doing things. Basically, anything and everything can be considered a child protection concern, depending on how it is presented. Plus I had proof they lie in reports. I wasn't stupid. I refused all their pressure to cooperate. This wasn't what I agreed to at the conference.

One morning in August, as we checked the car for sabotage or damage, something we did routinely now, we found another screw, placed under the tyre tread. I took pictures, and made a mental note to start keeping a diary.

Then I received a letter from the dog warden at East Riding Council, alleging my dog, my petite gentle staffie Trix, was apparently straying around the village, and being seen with children unable to keep control of her. I was warned the dog warden would be stepping up patrols in the local area. It was honestly absolutely laughable! My Trix was the softest, most patient dog I'd ever known, her temperament was never a concern. She certainly wasn't wandering the village, and the 'children' were teenagers and more than capable of controlling her, even our cats bullied her!

(I still have Trix to this day, and she is absolutely best friends with my little grandson, they have such a sweet close bond.)

This dog warden report was clearly malicious, I added it to the diary of events.

As August progressed, R received his college certificates and confirmation he was accepted on the next course, in fact he'd jumped a level. I was very proud of him. He was well known and liked in the village and in college, and was becoming a really lovely young man, always keen to help and full of kindness and compassion. At 18 years old, he was 'off the radar' of social services, and I didn't have to worry about him like I did the others. He was 'free' to enjoy himself.

Certificates and college acceptance

On August 21st, me and D attended another protest organised by my friend Kaz. Another survivor of abuse while in local authority care, Kaz was also protesting the cover up of historic CSA, this time in west Yorkshire. It was a cold, wet day and we got absolutely drenched. When we appeared in the local press we felt we'd helped to raise awareness. It was another small win. We attended further protests in Doncaster to support another good friend Bernie Gadd (RIP B, another legend lost too soon).

I now had two personas, I was home-educating-mum at home, and anonymous-mask-wearing-activist Harley Quinn on protests.

At home, we harvested our home grown potatoes. The soil in our garden was extremely poor and shallow (we were literally at the sea), so I bought 'potato bags', large plastic grow bags. The boys loved growing, we'd had allotments and grown veg in our garden for years, so they were absolutely made up that we could still grow our veg here, despite the poor garden soil.

But our enjoyment was always marred by the constant intrusion of child protection. Talking about concerns being raised. By who? Why couldn't they just leave us alone?

While scrolling my Facebook one late August evening, I came across 'message requests'. These were messages sent from people who aren't Facebook friends or linked to your friends. Strangers in other words. Facebook started filtering messages from unknown contacts to prevent spamming. When I looked in the folder, there was a filtered message, from my neighbour. It had been sent a few weeks previously.

The message was definitely an attempt to be 'friendly' but it gave me chills. I knew enough about Facebook to know how things work. So when I was piggy backing my other neighbours internet connection while mine was down, and I posted a trivial comment about 'stealing the neighbours internet' to my Facebook friends, I knew there was no way this Jacquie could possibly have seen it, she wasn't in my Facebook friends. In fact, she was so unrelated, with no friends in common, that her message had been filtered by Facebook to the strangers folder, the spam folder. So how was she viewing my private, friends only posts? My profile was also set to be kept private, and wouldn't pop up in searches by anyone not linked to someone I already knew. It certainly wouldn't be appearing in total strangers suggestion lists. Something didn't sit right. I felt watched. From all sides.

Facebook inbox message from Jacquie Lane claiming to have read my post

I made an appointment at Withernsea police station, and spoke to 2 officers. After hearing my story, they decided my ongoing experiences didn't amount to harassment, but they did suggest mediation, between me and the neighbours at number 1 and number 8. I immediately accepted. I wanted to know what their problem was.

I also complained about the CCTV cameras at number 8 pointing at my front door and driveway. The officers said when they approached number 8 about the mediation, they would have a look at the cameras and have a word with them about pointing the lenses towards their own property.

The police soon got back to me, they were sorry, but neither number 8 nor number 1 was prepared to enter mediation with me. This was looking more and more like another set up. I was literally being filmed, watched, and maliciously reported on.

My neighbour further in the Close, with the young daughter, had already taken some action. She had made signs and put them on the fence next to number 8...

Handwritten sign warning of CCTV filming kids

I tried to relax, we'd got the support of other neighbours in the area, the kids had made friends, I wasn't going to let these pair of old fuddy-duddys chase us away. These houses were massive, obviously built for families with children, not old people wanting peace and quiet. If anyone should leave, they should, we were here before both these neighbours. And everyone else thought we were great. We had every right to stay, this was our home now, my boys were happy. I wasn't going to be chased away by a couple of old bullies. This was my paradise...

Me sat on a rock at Easington beach

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