TRAPPED: the story of Ms X. In her own words. Open appeal to the Chief Minister.
Dear Chief Minister,
- I’m a single mother. I have a daughter. She is 12 years of age. I know every mother out there will understand that I need to remain anonymous publicly for her sake, though I am fully willing to deal face-to-face with those in a position to help.
- Several years ago, I chose to build a future for my daughter and me in Gibraltar, so I relocated here for work and invested all my savings here in a start-up business; I invested in the region of £60,000 – all of which was lost when we were both involved in a Road Traffic Accident due to an oil slick at the Trafalgar Roundabout.
- I am as grateful now as I was on that day for the acceptance of a room for my child and me. What has prompted me to appeal for help is the fact that my child and I appear to have now become non-entities. We seem to have ‘fallen through the cracks’ of mechanisms. For simple humanity’s sake, it is difficult to believe that we can simply be left without assistance or care, and in such desperate straits. I believe Gibraltar does care, and that is why I made a conscious choice to make this my home. I still have hope things can change for the better.
- I currently live in temporary/emergency charity accommodation and have done so for over 2 years. I am very grateful for this help but am also keenly aware that this space is not meant for me, but for people with different problems to mine, and for whom the Charity is designed to provide assistance. They have so put themselves out for me, however, but, in effect, I cannot help but feel ‘a nuisance’ and that I’m perhaps depriving someone else in need.
- I am no longer employed, which is a direct result of constantly struggling to cope with the ongoing situation, reaching out for help and being ignored. Ultimately, this is the price I have paid. All my energy and efforts have gone into reaching out for help to the Government and those who work for the community as a whole and the utter disregard I have felt has pushed me into ill health and, subsequently, to losing my job.
- I have reached out to Equality Rights Group for help. And I appeal for understanding and assistance from those in a position to extend a hand.
- I occupy a living space of 12ft x 8ft room with my 12 year old daughter which is our living room, dining room and bedroom. I have no option but to store my personal belongings against each wall in the room, which has dramatically reduced the living space to a 5ft x 3ft living space.
- But I am homeless, with a young child, unable to afford expensive private rentals, and unable to qualify for anything else. I’m desperately trapped. I need help. I am an active, entrepreneurial stand-up-on-my-own-two-feet type of woman, and the impotence I live is only adding to these negative circumstances.
- I do not drink and have never taken drugs and pay my rent each month, I keep myself to myself and spend all my time in my room with my daughter. I live under a constant threat of being made completely homeless.
- I went to hospital on Monday 4th April for an operation on the top of my leg / hip area
- When I arrived home I discovered I had no hot water, but due to the anaesthetic, I fell asleep. My daughter arrived home from school and could not shower. My daughter and I have been completely disregarded in the matter, with no option but to shower in cold water again. I’d like to point out that my daughter has asthma and has had a bad cold since Christmas which she still has and is being exacerbated by showering in cold water. Her health and mine are both at risk, but still nothing is done.
- Despite numerous attempts throughout the last 2 years, I have made no progress in having any issues I have raised resolved, since moving into the premises over 2 years ago. It has affected my health to the point that I am now taking different types of medication for anxiety, in addition to Beta Blockers and medication to help me sleep. This is as a result of the events I’ve endured whilst living here, the situation and uncertainty I continue to face.
- For every possible solution I discover, there is a barrier, an obstacle. I have applied for a 50/50 but they won’t be ready for another 4 years yet. If I am not eligible to go on the Housing List then please tell me what my options are. I am no scrounger: I like to work, pay taxes and abide by every obligation as a citizen. I believe Gibraltar is British and looks after it’s citizens, but where do my daughter and I fit in to this? Where is the help and why are we not means tested? This would ultimately be a fairer way of assessing situations. It has been reiterated to me again and again that I will not be able to live in the current premises for the next 10 years until I can apply for a Government House. That option is certainly not my intention.
- In life, circumstances can unwind in a manner none of us would have predicted or wished. This has been my story. I appeal with all my heart, to ask for help. I have little else to hope for.