Wednesday 30 July: updated with more photos at the end
Yesterday, I went to the home of a Kilburn man who is 51, has mild learning difficulties and currently signs on. He has worked all his life in hotels and in kitchenwork, but found it harder to get and keep work during the recession. He’s been out of work for four years now and is depressed about it. He doesn’t read or write very well and thinks that is the reason he’s finding it difficult to get another job. More on that soon.
For now, he wanted to show me his flat. It’s the tiny, single room in Kilburn you see here – so small that it was difficult for the four of us who were there to fit into all at once. His rent is paid in housing benefit – which means that his landlord gets housing benefit for renting this tiny little room out as a flat.
There was a bed, a broken fridge, another fridge in the middle of the room that this man had bought to keep his diabetes medication in, because it must be kept cool, and a broken oven. He’d got a second smaller oven with two hotplates to sit on top of the broken oven so that he’d at least have hotplates that worked. You can see that in the video. This man has complained to his landlord about the mice and cockroaches that live under the broken oven, but nothing has been done.
There are no windows as such in this “flat” – just a door area that leads to a shared path down the side of the house. In the heat, the room has been nearly uninhabitable. To cap things off, he says he has to do a jobsearch of about seven to ten jobs a week and has been threatened with sanctions if he doesn’t. He has been sent on the work programme. He wants another job. I’ll add to this story and have a lot more video to post, but – have this to think on for now. Here we are in 2014. Austerity’s over, you know. For some.
Room view. Bed, kitchen and clothing all in one tiny area.