Lightning Strikes Twice

Lightning Strikes Twice

Benefits, Private Renting, and The Ever Feared Possession Order.

Can a rented property ever become a home? It’s an important question but one we rarely think about when we look at renting. Buying a house will likely always remain an impossible dream for me; bad credit and worse health mean that the ideal of home ownership will not be mine to know. That’s okay, I made my peace with that a long time ago. It’s not an issue…or at least, it had never been one before.
I first wondered about it when my last landlord went down with the recession and plummeted as fast as my husband and I did. We were reminded, in the harshest possible way, that we were not in control of what happened to us. He needed to sell the house. Fast. So, one morning, out of the blue, he called me to tell me I had six weeks to find a new place to live.
I remember the horror, the panic, and the consuming terror. In one sentence: “I need to sell the house.”, he had made me homeless. We entered a nightmare of uncertainty and sleepless nights. My health worsened, my mental state hit the darkest place it had been in a long time. We couldn’t be housed with all four of our children: properties with 4 bedrooms were rarer than goldfish riding bicycles. My eldest daughter, then 16, moved in with my mother and, as a shrunken family of 5, rather than 6, we found a 3 bedroom house in the private sector, with the help of our local council. We were told it would be affordable, long term, as secure as it could be, and better managed than the home we had lived in for 8 long years.
We were lied to on all counts.
Our new house is, as you will know from previous posts, riddled with black mould and damp. The walls run with water. The windows don’t shut and open fully. The back doors do not lock. The roof needs flashing, there are rats in the rafters, the bath leaks into the living room…and at £800 a month, it was too expensive for us on our new, much diminished, wages and tax credits.
And today, I received the second eviction notice in 4 years. Ironic, I know, considering the year I have had so far, helping other homeless people and pointing families to the right places to go, so they may also find help. Now, it’s happened to me. Again.
This time, I looked at the paper deciding my fate, and I realised I felt nothing. Only worry about where we would go. I looked around at the walls that keep us locked away (to an extent) from the outside world, and realised it was not my home. Just a shell. It was never, had never, would never be, my home.
My biggest concern is financial. I can afford rent, but a deposit and between £300 – £400 administration fees on top of an £800 rent are well beyond my means. It may as well be a mortgage application. How can fees of £200 per person be justified? How am I meant to find that money?
The simple answer is, sadly, that I can’t find that money. We’re on a breadline. That doesn’t miraculously change because we’re facing, yet again, homelessness. Despite receiving assistance with our rent, that assistance can’t be used for a deposit, or to pay for advance rent. It can’t cover the administration fees. It can’t find moving costs. I need everything from a washing machine to beds for my daughters, as this house was part-furnished. I have to start over from scratch. It’s a scary prospect, when I thought I was in a stable situation.
I am one of thousands facing this dilemma. There’s not really any options, or places to turn to. I have an appointment with Housing Options, at my local council, but I know I only have a slim chance of a future with anything approaching security. There may be help to allow me to pay a deposit over time, but I know what I’m facing and I know how much I need to be able to pay out of my own pocket. When you are living on a breadline, it’s hard to keep a chin up, and a lip stiff. But I shall, as always, endeavour. I plan to document this journey and keep you all informed, right to the end. Whatever the outcome, wherever my family end up, I’ll be chatting to you as we go. From £1 a day living (to try and save every penny possible), to selling off anything I have left to sell (not much, my wedding ring and other jewellery are long gone), I will let you all know.

I have until November 24th to relocate, settle, and maybe find a home. It can’t all be bad. I’m not a naturally pessimistic person. If there’s a bright side, I’ll find it! I’m hoping for laughter, as well as tears. I’m hoping for a life my children will be happy to live. I’m hoping for a small space, somewhere, where I can plug myself into the mains, and write my books. I’m hoping. Hope, right now, is one thing I have in abundance.
So watch this space. We’re going on an adventure, and you’re invited to tag along.

Kathleen x

Kathleen Kerridge is an Amazon Best Selling author of LGBT+ fantasy fiction. Her books are available here (UK) and here (rest of world). She can be found on Facebook, and Twitter, so come and say Hi!

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What Do You Need To Do To Be Housed?

What Do You Need To Do To Be Housed?

What Does It Take To Become A Housing Priority In Britain Today?

I ask this is the nicest possible way.  I have been trying to navigate the ‘system’ for several weeks, now.  As readers of this blog know, I took in a homeless friend at the end of January.  I said he could stay on my sofa, as he would have been on the streets and was suicidal.  I can’t think of a single person I know in my (rather large) circle of friends and acquaintances who would have let this vulnerable man end up on the streets.  I offered my sofa and I put the wheels in motion to get him a support worker.  I found the agencies he needed to contact to be housed.  I even sat at his side in the doctor’s surgery.

Fast forward two months, and nothing has changed except for my own mental health, which is now seriously in decline.  I am trying to cope, and I think I am failing.  You see, my friend, alone, broke, suicidal, homeless, is not a priority to be housed.  My future, right now, is a terrifying (to me) picture of never having my house my own again.

The Council see their duty of care as being discharged, because the man is on my sofa and is therefore ‘not homeless’.  They have said to try and get a bond for a deposit for a private landlord.  That’s wonderful, but when someone is on ESA, which he is, how is he meant to scrape together the ridiculously expensive Admin Fees for a letting agent?  He doesn’t have £20 spare, let alone £150.  I am feeding him from my own family budget and have been for the eight weeks his Benefit Claim has taken to be assessed.  Yet the council think he can pay admin costs for a landlord who will ask for £400 a month for a bedsit.

Go Figure.

The doctor has referred him to a mental health support group.  He is helping him with his depression.  He cannot, however, get this man housed by an indifferent council.  He is not coming out of jail, nor is he coming out of the ‘Care System’ so is not a priority.

He’s simply homeless and flat broke after falling through the cracks of care for twenty-five years.

I need to make it clear: I have no issue with him being housed in the private sector. I simply fail to understand how he is meant to get the cost of the fees together to pay for the privilege of being housed. As it stands, he will need about £800 before I get my house back.

My work is suffering. My mind feels as though it is fracturing. The ever helpful council have said they will ‘see what they can do’. What they can do, thank you, is house him. Naive, maybe, but I thought he would be helped and housed by now. I have known people housed within a couple of weeks and I really want to know how they managed it. Likely by spells and magic, chanting something while standing on one leg in the light of a full moon, while the stars are in Taurus and a nightingale sings. I don’t know any more.

All I know is I cannot carry on like this and nor can my friend. It is as though we are trapped in Limbo, unable to move on or to work toward a future. If you have the answers I am searching for, please tell me. If you know any landlords willing to take Housing Benefit without extortionate admin charges through a letting agency, then please tell me.

Kathleen Kerridge is an author of fantasy fiction.  Her books are available on Amazon HERE.

Homeless Doesn’t Mean Cardboard Boxes.

Homeless Doesn’t Mean Cardboard Boxes.

I don’t have a lot of material goods.  I don’t own my home.  I’m not rich by even the wildest stretch of the imagination.  Yet I do have something in my life, which right now, is a lifeline to a friend of mine.  I have a two-seater, second hand, 15 year old sofa.  It’s the only seating in my house, except for wooden kitchen chairs.  We used to have a leather three piece suite…clawed and scratched up by a previous tenant’s cats, but serviceable.  It belonged to our old landlord, though.  When he sold the house from under us and evicted us with only four weeks notice, he refused to let us take the suite.  He wanted £200 for it.  It had cost £30 second hand.  So, we had only the kitsch old sofa I’d bought years ago.  It’s small, beaten, weathered and ugly as sin, according to my husband.  I bought it (and a three-seater which unfortunately died) as more of a joke than anything else.  It was in a charity shop window and it was so hideous I felt sorry for it.

Now, that old battered and beaten sofa is my friend’s new home.  I wrote before, about a friend made homeless due to bereavement.  That same friend has once again found himself with nowhere to turn.  Much as poverty is hidden, so is much of this country’s homeless.  My friend, who shall remain nameless, has numerous personal issues.  One of which is another ‘hidden’ and ‘shameful’ blight — depression.  He needs help, which is proving difficult to get.  Suicidal Ideation is present and, when he told his doctor he wanted to die, he was told he had to want to help himself before he could expect help to be given and to go back in two weeks.  Isn’t that lovely?  A homeless man, out of work, no close family, nowhere to turn, suicidal…told to go away and come back in two weeks.

My sofa isn’t the comfiest thing in the world.  It sags and can cripple anyone with a back injury.  But it is under a roof that can keep off the rain and it comes with love and an ear attached to it.  It also comes with a meal a day.  I will need to juggle and get creative, but that one extra mouth needs feeding, so fed it shall be.  Until we can jump through all the hoops of ESA/JSA, and get him some kind of benefits.  Until we can get council help in finding him a place where he shall not need to be able to produce a deposit, as well as one month’s rent and £150 in agency fees.  To be able to be housed, this man — homeless, without money, without savings and without, right now, hope — will need to find about £700.  To some, that sum will seem insignificant.  To those in his situation, it may as well be a million.

His is a world where, when benefits come to him, he shall be living on a pittance.  One so small, that when he gets a bedsit, charged at an extortionate rent, after he has paid utilities and bills, he shall be left with pennies to survive on.  They are pennies he is grateful for.  A small amount, but one he appreciates.  His health and mental state make work an impossibility.  This is his life and will likely stay his life.  It’s not one he would choose, but it is his and it is worth keeping.  Worth fighting for.

This is where friends rally around.  Where we will sit with him as he wades through the minefield of legal gumpf and fills out enough forms to fill a wheelie-bin.  We will be at his side to help him find a small, cramped, cheap bedsit.  We will find him items to cook with, so he can eat.  Right now, he has a duvet and clothes from his life ‘before’ it was all lost.  We shall prop him up whilst he is too weak to stand, and we shall cheer when he takes those first steps into a new future.  We will be there for him for as long as we are needed.

So will my small, insignificant, beaten up, battered, hideous old sofa.  Because this is the world of the hidden homeless, and that sofa will mean he is not vulnerable.  On the street, left to the elements and discarded from society like a worthless old bit of junk no-one wants in their life.  That sofa, as ugly as it is and as uncomfortable as it might be, is his new home.  The sofa is more than an item of furniture.  It is a promise that it will be there, to hold him safe at night and keep him warm and dry.  It means there is a roof, not the sky, above his head.  It means he is not alone.

It means there is hope.

I am a Fantasy Fiction author (too much ‘real’ in my life as it is, thank you) and my books are available on Amazon.  I am Independently Published — my ‘team’ are my friends.  My début novel ” Into The Woods” can be found HERE (UK) and HERE (rest of world).  Links to my Author Page and other books can be found through these links.  The paperback for Book #1 of the Searching For Eden series can be found HERE.  Book #2 shall be available shortly.

“These people are not scroungers and they are not lazy” – an interview with Kathleen Kerridge

When blogger Kathleen Kerridge clicked “submit”, she had no idea what she had let herself in for.

“I had no idea of the storm that was about to be unleashed. Day two brought over a quarter-million people to my article and the responses were so heartfelt and honest that I was left reeling. Thousands upon thousands of people, in exactly the same predicament, began messaging me, emailing me and finding my Facebook page. Literally thousands. It was a constant stream of cries for help, offers of support, asking for advice, giving advice, telling me there was help, support networks being formed…”

Kerridge had written a post entitled “The Upsetting Reality of Modern Day Poverty” (read it here). In it she describes, in heart-breaking detail, the difficulty of feeding a household of five on a budget of just £45 per week. She decided to speak out after watching celebrity chef Jamie Oliver’s show…

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Sketches of The University Interlude

My Fluid Self: My search for a narrative

In Gil Scott-Heron’s autobiography there are scattered poems, new and old. Unsurprising given who he was. But reading them was surprising. It was pleasing to see rhythm that grew from the page and didn’t fit into, or get trapped by, the guarded confines of poetic metering. The structures of the poems were precisely aligned with their meaning and tone. I thought then about his effortlessness in pitching the self as a photo negative of larger conditions. I hoped then, and still do, that I would find a coterminous instinct in my writing. I read the poems and I tried to bounce in loose synapses of a private silence a few improvised lines. A few prototype rhymes of mimicry. The first step is to master the masters and then create, or so an artist probably said according to a motivational meme. Those words that shot up like fireworks soon dissipated that…

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There Are No Right Words.

On Grief, Loss and Bad News…

We have all had that call.  The one that comes out of the blue and shifts our world to a new, unknown, place.  The call that might not be totally unexpected, but suddenly rips the life raft of hope from our hands.  It leaves us floundering, drowning.  Facing a future in which our life is changed irrevocably.  Forever.

I have received that call.  I would do anything to have never had it.  To have not heard those words.  “…is dead.”  “…won’t make it.”  “Nothing can be done.”  “At least there’s time to say goodbye.” I think we have all heard them, by the time the threshold of ‘mid-thirties’ is passed.  Death becomes a way of life as we say goodbye to grandparents, parents, family and friends.

As age creeps up on me, the calls become more common.  The pain remains as rare.  The sense of injustice never changes, nor does the futile hope the doctors are wrong.  Medicine will work.  A cure found, a life saved, grief averted.  Life will carry on and that one person shall still be at the end of a phone.  I will always be able to call them.  Tell them how much I love them.  Laugh with them and hold them close.

Until I can’t.  The call comes and life changes.

It’s natural to want to scream and deny the reality.  But we can’t be ‘selfish’; there are others affected.  Spouses, children, parents, family, cousins…the list seems endless.  There are, quite swiftly, no words that can be said and no way to take away or ease the pain of all those who shall be left behind.  As the grief builds there’s no right thing to say.  There is no right way to deliver the news; no right way to receive it.

No right way to be the one left dying, surrounded by dozens, maybe hundreds, of people who have to face a new altered future.  That has to be as hard, if not harder.  Being the one knowing time is nearly up, knowing it’s time to leave.  Not being able to stop what is going to happen.

Age, in this case, gives no answers.  Death, as ever, gives no dignity.  To be told we are losing someone hurts.  It cuts into a heart and saws at emotion with a serrated blade.  We put down the phone, we sit, stunned, and we try and adjust to the news we have been given.  Be it a friend we grew up with, a friend we made at work, a friend we have slowly grown close to through the internet…none of that matters.  The grief is still real.  Still there, choking us.

Reflection brings memories.  At first they hurt.  It’s easier, less painful, to push them away.  A flash of a smile can bring us to our knees, crying afresh.  Eventually, though, they bring comfort.  We welcome them and hoard them.  We make them, knowing that we are planning for the day their face, voice, words, aren’t there for us.

We say goodbye, slowly.  Knowing the end is coming, we build our future and pray we have enough memories to pull out and examine, when they are needed.  We stand, wait, hope, help, love…all the while knowing there are no right words.  There is nothing that can be said.  Nothing to ease the weight of loss.  We hold each other and cry, laugh, smile and remember.  We visit funeral parlours, choose music, plan wakes…making sure everything is ‘just so’.

Or we wave goodbye as an ancient V.W Camper is packed to the roof with painkillers, clothes and quilts, holding back our tears as that final adventure is embarked on.  We might be privileged enough to be party to the Bucket List and grin at the thought of paddling in the icy waters of Morecambe, eating potted shrimps from a pot; watching a sunrise in the Scottish Highlands; being in the presence of The Gutenberg Bible; just holding hands and watching the tide come in…small things that will leave memories.

There are no right words.  There is no right way to say goodbye.  Yet we manage to speak silently and express every word we need to say, without uttering a sound.

And we remember.

Here is my interview with Kathleen Kerridge

This is my interview with the lovely Fiona! I’m very stunned and pleased to be asked to interview.



Name Kathleen Kerridge


Age 36


Where are you from

Southsea, way down at the arse end of England, in Hampshire.


A little about yourself; i.e. your education Family life etc  

I am a married mum of four with three children still at home and a lovely dog called Neffie.  I work as a full time writer and cook a lot.  I’m educated to AS Level – I fell pregnant at 15 and had my eldest, then just when I thought I was safe, I went back to college at 24…and fell pregnant with my youngest at 25.  I have no desire to go back for a degree and get child number five.


Fiona: Tell us your latest news?

I went accidentally viral with my third ever proper blog-post and have created a small tornado of feelings and divisive sentiments…maybe it’s a good thing, though.  I…

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Robin Williams: A lesson in life, not depression.

A few pertinent words from my editor. With love.

My Fluid Self: My search for a narrative


I woke up and in keeping with an unhealthy routine rolled over and checked Facebook. The first post I saw was aghast at the death of Robin Williams, the second revealed it was alleged to be suicide, and with that I predicted the flood like a Nine-to-five Noah. I read on, irrationally, to the third post. It was a quote of an anecdote from Watchmen;

Man goes to doctor. Says he’s depressed. Says life seems harsh and cruel. Says he feels all alone in threatening world where what lies ahead is vague and uncertain. Doctor says, “Treatment is simple. Great clown Pagliacci is in town tonight. Go and see him. That should pick you up.” Man bursts into tears. Says “But Doctor… I am Pagliacci.”

As poignant as it is, applied to the life of Williams it is a misnomer, casting him as the desolate trope of the tragic clown…

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A Weekend Of Daleks And Angels.

A Weekend Of Daleks And Angels.

I’m a bit of a secret (okay, not so secret) nerd.  Or is that meant to be geek?  I can never remember, although I have been told the difference enough times.  I think I am maybe both.  Anyway–I went to Cardiff last Friday, because in those Welsh mountains, nestled amongst the castles and sheep, is the Doctor Who Experience.

Doctor Who scared me as a small child.  Cybermen gave me nightmares and I think, but can’t be sure, it was banned in my house because I really suffered from some doozies.

That’s neither here nor there, though.  When the good Doctor came back to our screens, I watched.  I sat in my living room and watched every episode on Virgin’s Catch-Up service.  Ecclestone? Yup – loved him.  Tennant? Oh, yes please.  Matt Smith? Took a bit of getting used to, but, yep – loved him too.  Capaldi? I adore the man.

My daughter loves The Doctor too.  With a passion.  So, it happened that for her 16th birthday, we could be found posing alongside Cybermen and crouching to pat K-9.  My daughter ‘drove’ the TARDIS (and crash landed it); stole a crystal from a Dalek (and woke it up); wandered through a forest of Weeping Angels and, at the end of the day, saved the world.  It was great fun, well done and had just the right amount of terror/peril.

The backpacker Hostel we stayed in was pleasant.  If you’re on a shoestring budget and want to be in the centre of Cardiff, then I recommend the Nomad…just don’t expect frills–there ain’t none.

All in all, I would go again.  Maybe just for one night, though.  The prices are inflated, the tourism expensive and the streets haven’t been cleaned since the paving was laid down in Cardiff Central.  Seriously, it’s black and has more chewing gum attached to it than Wrigley’s has produced this century.  If you’re thinking of a visit, do yourself a favour and go to Cardiff Bay.  Get the bus from there to the centre for the castle (if you want to pay £22 to walk up some steep steps, of course), and to go to the huge mall the city centre boasts.  Be prepared to spend a serious amount of cash–it’s super expensive.

It’s worth a visit.  Just go prepared to be a bit, well, bored.  There’s not much to do.  The lady at Tourist Information was bored of me by 12 noon on the Saturday (I got there Friday teatime) after already telling me five ‘all day’ excursions.  They took an hour, with my 65 year old disabled mother tootling along with her walking stick.  Also, as a side note, saying a place is a tourist attraction because The Doctor ran past it, once, isn’t really true.  It’s a rather dull shop front, really.  They sell more overpriced touristy-gumpf.  Save yourself the trip.

Drive down, spend an afternoon at the Bay (hopefully they will have turned the water tower back on – it was off while I was there), then if you fancy a drink in the evening, stay in a Travelodge before heading home the next day.  See some Daleks and pose with an angel, then drive back, pleased you’ve been and pleased to be in the best place in the world.


Exciting Times…

Exciting Times…

You may have noticed that there is a ‘new’ book on my Author Page.  An all new book, with the same title as the old one.  What’s that all about, then?

It’s been an eventful few weeks since Christmas. To say the least.

You see, my first novel, Into The Woods, was in dire need of editing.  I knew this, of course, but only in a vague sort of way. I was brand new to the authoring game and greener than the grass in the next field.  I’d written the book, had fun writing it and, so I did not chicken out of publishing it again, I literally typed the final sentence and uploaded it to Kindle.

It was both brave and stupid, in hindsight. Ah, hindsight, you beautiful beast, you.

So it’s edited, with the assistance of an amazing man, Sam Flaco.  Of course, this means that The Call of The Dark will also have a complete do-over, but now, oddly, I am looking forward to the process.  It’s fun.

It was a leap into the unknown, when I hit that PUBLISH button.  Luckily for me, most people I have encountered have been nothing short of lovely.  I don’t mean a little bit nice, either.  I mean welcoming me into the fold with open arms, guiding me in the right direction, helping me when I got stuck.  All that and more.

I was able to get invaluable feedback.  Most people, knowing it was a first book, were constructive.  Some were not.  The ones who weren’t, well…it took a few weeks to realise that not everyone in the world is nice; that some people just enjoy hurting other people.  No, I don’t mean they gave a bad review.  Bad reviews come with the job, so they were expected.  I mean the people who thought they were clever in directly contacting me to pull my work apart.  The ones who have not grown past senior school (maybe they are still there) and think being mean is fun.

A heads-up.  It’s not as funny as they think it is.  It truly does hurt to have to be the victim of someone else’s ‘cleverness’.  To have to look at a deliberately evil ‘critique’ and be expected to be able to shrug it off takes a thick skin, a few tears and a fair amount of Pinot Grigio…

Most people, however, showed what beautiful souls there are out there in the world.  One reviewer was in contact with me for the three days it took him to read Into The Woods to point out my typos and errors.  He made my day. (well, night, really—he’s in the USA and I’m in England.  Our conversations happened at about 3am for me, but it was still great.)

Anyway, this brings me to the importance of editing.  A lot of the mistakes I made were avoidable.  They would never have been printed, had I taken the time to ‘sit’ on the manuscript for a few weeks, read through it, be critical and, crucially, check the bloody thing over for errors.

The new Edited edition of Into The Woods is miles away from that first, unlooked at, manuscript that was uploaded to the world in a leap of faith.  I will always treasure the first edition, though.  I can look at it, see its mistakes and learn from them.  It is that manuscript that, in spite of the bed reviews, gave me the courage to keep writing and keep learning.

It can be picked up for free here:  for the next few weeks.  All of you who took the time to read the first ever novel of a brand new author, I thank you.  Please accept the Edited Edition with love.  If you can take the time to review it, that would be marvellous.

As for me, would I go back and edit first, had I known?  That’s harder to answer than you might think.  Yes, it would have meant that I would have had a polished manuscript, but I wouldn’t have learned half as much as I have.  I would still have a thin skin—but for an unedited manuscript, I think the stupidity and bravery paid off.  It gave me confidence.  It made me friends.  And people enjoyed it, despite its failings.

That, above all else, has to be the most important thing to remember.


Thank you to Jay Aheer for the fantastic new cover!