It's not that I set out to deliberately deceive anyone, I never lied at any point, and Lime Properties didn't ask me if I was on benefits, they asked about my 'income'. I provided bank statements, and a number of personal references from people in my local area who were, quite frankly, stunned to hear about the protection conference. As I have said before, I had a lot of local support, I'd helped a lot of children in the area in school, and I was well thought of and respected. However, when I explained how the boys had been treated at school, the escalating physical restraints, the state K had gotten into the year before, and then how Sharon Jackson and Leslie Balfe had effectively stabbed me in the back after years of me proudly supporting their school, people were understanding of my reasons for wanting to leave. It was bittersweet, my 3 youngest boys were home births, in the house we were being forced to give up, after 12 years this was all my kids knew. But I was warned about 'the system' when we ran off camping, and I wasn't taking any chances.
On 19th July 2013, I walked, with a smug smile on my face, into the CIN meeting. Another dull, dreary room, full of school desks. Paul Scott was there, sat at the desk, smiling and trying desperately to appear friendly. I sat down with arrogant impatience, psychotic grin on my face, eyes fixed on him. I've been waiting for this moment. We waited a few minutes, in which time Paul explained as this was an initial meeting, we could just start, and see if anyone else turned up. In other words, nobody else was coming.
So I dropped it on him,
"I did say at that conference, I was leaving Nottingham. I know nobody believed me, but honestly I don't care what any of you think anymore. I sign my new tenancy in Yorkshire, in 6 days. We're leaving, you've literally chased my family out of our 12 year council tenancy with your lies and targeted bullshit. I don't live in Nottingham anymore, here's my new address, see ya"
I stood up, pushed a handwritten note with the new address over the desk, and before he could respond, walked straight out of the door.
The smug smiles were mixed with sadness, but I tried to stay positive for the boys. We were going to live at the seaside!
We packed, and said our tearful farewells. Friends asked how they could help, and I suggested writing me personal references. One friend offered to do an end-of-tenancy clean. I was really going to miss these people.
The move itself was stressful, I hired a Luton van and a friend offered to drive it for me, while I took my car, a 2012 Vauxhall Astra. As the journey between Netherfield and Easington was over 100 miles, taking over 2 hours to get there, we had just one chance at this. I wasn't making multiple journeys. We crammed everything we could into every space possible, the kids were piled up with luggage, bags, plants, a lifetime of belongings, and on the 25th July 2013, we waved Nottingham goodbye, and headed north east.
While the van headed straight for Easington, we headed for Lime Properties' office in Hessle, to collect the keys and sign the tenancy.
At this point, I was amazed we had got this far, and I was paranoid of everything and everyone. I wouldn't let the boys out of my sight but tried to keep upbeat, treating this like one great adventure.
As a parent you learn many skills; eating treats in stealth mode, talking in code, and silent crying. I am a master of silent crying. When the kids were all asleep, I'd bury my face in a large bath towel, and I would cry my heart out. Since the conference, I'd cried a lot. I was wounded from the betrayal, scared, and grieving my lost life. That was our home, our area, everything we had ever known, and that woman had breezed into that school, manhandled my precious boys, and forced us to leave. The injustice burned inside me, along with the deep, soul-destroying guilt I felt over what my boys went through. What they were going through. What I had allowed THAT school to do to them. I swore from now on, I would do whatever it took, at any cost, to keep them safe and make them happy.
We arrived in Hessle at the arranged time of 2pm. Dismissing the boys complaints of being squashed, needing to stretch legs etc, I told them to wait in the car. I would just run in, go through the formalities, grab the keys, and we'd get on our way.
The van would, by now, already be heading through Hull, and onto the run of little villages towards Easington. One of the reasons I loved the location, was how remote it was, however after living in a major city all my life, I failed to realise 'remote' was, well, remote. There was no phone signal. Occasionally there might be a glance of a connection, but once past Hull, it was pretty much dead. Everyone had landlines.
I rushed into the office,
"Hi there, I've come to sign for some keys, for The Brambles, Easington" forcing myself to act calmer than I felt.
"I do apologise, we're still waiting for the keys to be returned, from maintenance"
"Yeah, we was expecting the keys back by now, but they haven't arrived. Shouldn't be too long tho, if you'd like to wait" she gestured towards some chairs.
"I've got the kids outside, and a van already on the way to Easington" I started to panic, this was the bit where it all fucked up, I was sure of it.
"I'm so sorry, I'm sure he won't be long"
Great, I thought. Just fuckin great. I was exhausted and deflated. I walked to the car.
"Are we going to the new house now?" the boys were getting restless.
"They don't have the keys. They're still with maintenance apparently. We gotta wait" I couldn't keep the disappointment out of my voice, if this was the stage where it all went Pete tong, the key stage, well fuck me, life was fuckin nasty.
I let the boys climb out of the car to walk around. The office surroundings were, like most of Yorkshire, picturesque, and we sat under a tree canopy looking out over lush green fields. It was beautiful here. Don't lose hope.
I tried to ring my mate driving the van, but there was no signal. I wondered if he'd got there, and whether he was worried about us. But with no signal, all I could do was sit and wait.
Eventually, my mate rang. He'd driven to Withernsea and found phone signal, and what the bloody hell was I doing? Where was we? Are we ok?
I explained the key situation. Oh, he said, I'll just wait there for you then. See you when you get there.
He seemed rather unfazed by the news. Maybe I was panicking for nothing. Maybe this was normal for private rental.
After what seemed like a lifetime, but was actually more like 2 hours, the keys turned up. I eagerly signed the tenancy, paid the dues, and took the keys. We were in.
We joined the sludge of rush hour traffic, navigating our way through the winding, steadily more empty, country roads, through each village, reading aloud each name as we passed the sign. "You'll be able to name all these villages in order soon"
We pulled up to the house, and onto the driveway. My driveway. My house. Unlocking the front door, I swung it wide, turned to my boys,
"Welcome to our new home, at the seaside"
We'd made it. We were safe. For now. We set about settling in, and exploring our new surroundings. I'd always wanted to live by the sea.
Those first few weeks were unbelievably difficult. I had to drive to Withernsea daily just to pick up phone signal and Internet, a journey of over 7 miles. Withernsea was also where the shops were. The lack of amenities bit me hard. I felt isolated. It took 3 long weeks before our landline and broadband got connected, but we busied ourselves by setting up home and exploring the area. It was absolutely beautiful, and slowly I began to relax. A new start was what we had here.
It was time to find education placements for R and D. And once again, the remoteness of our situation, created more problems than it solved..