Children don’t care about housing tenure, they just need to feel settled and safe
The Citizen’s Advice Bureau is currently running a campaign relating to private renters entitled, ‘Settled & Safe’ . These adjectives encapsulate what I imagine we all want from a home. Desirable states they may be, but with young family in tow I know only too well how elusive they can be in the private renting world.
My children know how it feels to be settled. A year ago they had that feeling about their school, friendships, community and various clubs and after-school activities. The house we lived in, though from being perfect, was they felt, ‘theirs’. Of course as parents we knew that our ‘possession’ of that place was inherently tenuous. However, we danced around that truth doing ‘settled’ things like applying for secondary schools assuming we’d still be there to take up the place. We tried to solidify our situation by informing our landlord from the outset of our desire to see out our children’s education in their property and they seemed happy with that agreeing in return to make necessary improvements to the house.
Improvements were needed because the house wasn’t ‘safe’, certainly not for a family with children anyway. Ancient, mouldy window frames in a child’s bedroom warped to the extent they couldn’t be closed being a clear example. When on requesting that the problems be fixed, the landlord served us notice instead, our sense of security took a tumble from which it may never truly recover. The children were hit hardest. When they had to move from the home they had known to a completely new house, town and school, they didn’t feel safe. When they were split into different schools because moving mid-year makes finding one school for all children nigh on impossible, they didn’t feel safe. Rather they felt wrenched from the lives they’d known and they feared it happening again.
And they still do. I know that because they were recently privy to a discussion in which the possibility of house buying was mentioned (a girl can dream). For the children, the mere thought of this led to anxiety and tears. Ultimately, whether we own or rent is of no consequence to them; all they want is a home they won’t lose. They, like all of us, just want a home in which to be ‘Settled & Safe’. Not too much to ask, surely.
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