This is an excerpt from a longer article I’m working on:
A fortnight ago, I visited Lukia – a woman with a history of severe depression. She has been in the care of a mental health unit.
For two years, Lukia has lived on an upper floor of a grim homelessness hostel in Newham. She was placed in the hostel by Newham council.
She dislikes living up so high, because she worries about jumping.
“I’m living on the ninth floor, because… my daughter knows that I don’t go near the window… I always feel like I’m going to go down…”
“Like you’re going to jump?”
“Yes, yes… feel like you’re jumping.” Lukia said.
Here’s the view from Lukia’s window:
Her hostel room is also distressing. It’s not really a room. It’s more a hallway with Lukia’s bed and belongings in it. There’s a small kitchen at one end of this hallway and the bed, and window, at the other.
The “room” is filled with suitcases, kitchen items and household belongings:
Why do we make people with serious mental health conditions live like this?
Lukia’s daughter lives in a similar hallway-type room next door, because her mother can’t live alone.
Lukia says the council has offered other temporary accommodation, but she worries about that. She was moved to this hostel from other temporary accommodation, because that accommodation was disgusting:
“They left me there in Romford Road – [that accommodation] was really filthy. We kept on cleaning. We couldn’t do anything. We would have to go through the environmental services… I said I’m not staying in the place. We were about five, six, seven families…. and said you cannot stay in this environment. They all had children. A woman wrote to them – the council – and said, “move these people as soon as possible.” Then, the following day they phoned us and said you have to move…”
What on earth are we doing?
I’d ask Newham Council for a comment on this – in particular, a comment on Lukia’s concerns about jumping and living in a room many stories up – but the council has blacklisted me. There we go.