Pemberstone have issued eviction notices to several families on the estate. The Readman family is one of them. They have lived on Wordsworth Drive with their children for 16 years and have deep ties with the community and local area. Cindy and John Readman have been some of the loudest voices on the Save Our Homes LS26 campaign, trying to prevent the demolition of the estate – is it a coincidence that their home is one of the “red houses”, apparently structurally deficient and slated for early demolition? Perhaps. Perhaps not. What is clear is that the Readman family, and the whole estate, have been left devastated by Pemberstone’s latest move.
Cindy Readman shares her family’s experience of receiving the eviction notice, and their fears for the future.
We were away on holiday when the eviction notices arrived and I only heard about it when I messaged our neighbour and good friend, Mavis, to ask about our cats. Mavis was looking after them for us, and we wanted to check in. When Mavis shared the devastating news, we were pretty sure we would have received a notice, but tried not to think about it until we got home because family time is so precious and we’re all so fearful of what’s to come. We have lived here for 16 years and love our home. Our family has grown up here, with our youngest being just 3 years old when we moved in.
Many a Christmas, Halloween, and birthday have been celebrated in the Readman family’s beloved home
Fears for the future
When we got back from holiday, it was like a kick in the guts to read the letter. It wasn’t unexpected but it arrived much sooner than anticipated – we thought they had to have a tenants’ forum and other consultations up and running before anything happened. We also knew that they couldn’t commence with any works between March and September due to nesting birds. Yet, here we are, with a notice to get out by 1st December – just a few weeks before Christmas.
We’re so scared that we’ll have nowhere to go; there are no 3 bed private rents in this area and even 2 beds are out of our price range. Although our oldest son is at university, we need somewhere he can come back to, so we need 3 bedrooms. He needs somewhere to still call home. Is it really too much to ask?
We now have just under four months until eviction. Four months seems like a long time, but it will go in the blink of an eye. How can Pemberstone be happy to uproot the lives of whole families like this? It can take many many weeks to organise a new private rental with credit checks and references – and that’s presuming we can even find and qualify for one.
Mental health impacts
These last few years of fighting have really taken a toll on our family’s mental health and stress levels, and the eviction notice has made it all so much worse. Our youngest son has suffered with anxiety in the past when at high school, and there’s the fear that all this upheaval will be detrimental to his mental health. All this after 18 months of pandemic hell, too.
It has put us in a nightmare position in other ways, too. We’re now very anxious about reporting any repairs, as we believe Pemberstone will link them to the apparent faults they say are there and make us leave sooner.
Keeping family together and staying local
We recently welcomed a granddaughter into our family and hoped that she too could grow up being able to visit Grandma and Grandad in this home and play in the garden just like her mummy did. Our daughter lives nearby, and we can’t face the thought of being forced to move far away.
I also work locally at a primary school, and need to remain local to keep supporting the wonderful children there, who I’ve grown to know so well. Many of the children that attend the school live on our estate, and I can see the daily effects this eviction threat is having on them, too.
John used to work in the mines, and now works in Leeds. And our son Sam is actively looking for local work to stay close to friends and family. To move away from this area would cause stress and anxiety for us all, increased travel time, and much longer days due to increased travel.
We love our home! It means everything to us, and this community has helped us so many times over the years. Family life has its ups and downs, as I’m sure everyone can relate to. But we’ve had an especially difficult 4 years, as we have had to cope with family heartache and health issues, as well as fighting to save our home – and, of course, the pandemic. During the last 18 months in particular, our home has been our sanctuary and my mental health was helped greatly by being able to spend time doing my garden during lockdown.
If we were booted out of our home and put in temporary accommodation – where would this be? What would it be like? Would we all have to share a room with no kitchen, no living area and no privacy? You hear so many horror stories.
Refuse to accept social cleansing
Well, we’ve decided we’re not going to take this lying down.
We will not be leaving on 1st December, even if this means we will lose Pemberstone’s “30 pieces of silver” to get out and shut up. They can take us to court, and I can then prove that their claims of deterioration in our home are false.
The social injustice of all this is what angers us the most. This is social cleansing! There were many alternative plans Pemberstone could have followed, but they chose money over people’s lives, over families, every time.
I’m angry at how this is affecting the lives of so many people especially the elderly on the estate – I have cried many times with some of y neighbours, listening to their stories of living here. This eviction and demolition plan is ripping the heart out of this community, and Pemberstone don’t care.
How you can help
We’re so grateful to everyone who has supported us along the way, it has really meant a lot. If you want to keep helping us fight to save our homes, you can:
- Sign this supportive resolution to be put forward to Leeds City Council.
- Email the leader of Leeds City Council or any other councillors directly to share your support for us to stay in our homes.
- Follow our social media pages and retweet our posts Tw: @SaveOurHomeLS26 Fb: Save Our Homes LS26
- If you are members of a trade union, please contact them. We need pressure on MPS and councillors to stop this injustice!
- You can also support the campaign financially on our JustGiving page
Thanks so much.