BNC Text FY8

Nottingham Oral History Project: interview. Sample containing about 12735 words speech recorded in leisure context

4 speakers recorded by respondent number C156

PS25M X u (No name, age unknown, nun, social worker) unspecified
PS25N X u (No name, age unknown, interviewer) unspecified
FY8PSUNK (respondent W0000) X u (Unknown speaker, age unknown) other
FY8PSUGP (respondent W000M) X u (Group of unknown speakers, age unknown) other

1 recordings

  1. Tape 095001 recorded on 1986-12-10. LocationNottinghamshire: Nottingham () Activity: Oral history project interview

Undivided text

Unknown speaker (FY8PSUNK) [...]
(PS25M) [1] Mhm.
(PS25N) [2] Erm.
[3] So erm when did you live in the flats? [...]
(PS25M) [4] Erm I lived in the flats from Christmas eighty three till September eighty five.
(PS25N) [5] Mhm.
[6] And erm in addition you've you're a social worker.
(PS25M) [7] I am a social worker.
(PS25N) [8] And you and you've erm through through your work as a social worker, you've had some contact with people in the flats.
(PS25M) [9] That's right.
[10] I've erm contacted them through living there and working with them as well.
(PS25N) [11] Mhm.
[12] And in addition to that, am I right in saying, for thirty years you've been a nun?
(PS25M) [13] I've been a nun for thirty years
(PS25N) [14] Mhm.
(PS25M) [15] yes.
(PS25N) [16] Erm ... whereabouts whereabouts erm were you born?
(PS25M) [17] I was born in Scotland.
(PS25N) [18] In Scotland, what part?
(PS25M) [19] In the West of Scotland, just between Edinburgh and Glasgow.
[20] Yes and erm I came down here erm just at the time I was becoming a nun thirty thirty odd years ago.
(PS25N) [21] So have you got have you got any brothers and sisters?
(PS25M) [22] I have one erm a sister and one brother, both married with families in Scotland still.
[23] So I still go back.
[24] To visit them.
(PS25N) [25] What about erm the occupation of you parents? [...]
(PS25M) [26] Er well my my mother is a cook and
(PS25N) [27] mhm.
(PS25M) [28] my father is a mi [...] sorry he wasn't a miner.
[29] He was a miner for a very short time.
[30] erm but then he he couldn't take and he moved into the steel works.
[31] So he he's worked in steel work for a long time.
[32] Till he retired.
(PS25N) [33] What kind of [cough] education had [...] when did you when did you leave sc
(PS25M) [34] Erm yeah, I attended the grammar school
(PS25N) [35] Yeah.
(PS25M) [36] in Scotland and erm it was called the senior secondary then.
[37] And erm I er did my Scottish Higher Leaving Certificate.
[38] And erm then after erm I had done my training as nun, I did teacher training, and I taught [...] for twenty years, before becoming a social worker. ...
(PS25N) [39] How what kind of a Prior to living on the flats, erm what kind of accommodation have you lived in?
(PS25M) [40] Erm well [...] I I've lived always in sort of traditional convents, which are generally
(PS25N) [41] Mhm.
(PS25M) [42] Erm sort of detached houses or er rather big properties somewhere or other.
[43] Erm but prior to coming to er live in the flats, I lived on Road in , erm next door to a mother and baby home.
[44] And I worked in the mother and baby home.
[45] So that was just like an ordinary
(PS25N) [46] Mhm.
(PS25M) [47] detached house on the the main road in .
(PS25N) [48] So how how does the accommodation erm you've been in prior to flats, contrast with erm living on the flats?
(PS25M) [49] Erm it was a [laugh] a complete contrast.
[50] Erm it couldn't be more different actually.
[51] Er you know living er so close to neighbours and people you know in so it tended to be, in other places where I've lived, that you didn't see people people very often, at least you didn't speak to your close neighbours very often, and erm in the flats, you know I found that they were right in the midst of it.
(PS25N) [52] Okay.
[53] What was your motivation behind living in the flats?
[54] The I know you [...]
(PS25M) [55] Erm well it it really stemmed out of my work in the mother and baby
(PS25N) [56] Yes.
(PS25M) [57] home.
[58] Er several of the girls who had been in the mother and baby home, were housed in the flats.
[59] And we had to help them to move and you know help them to move their things and [...] really I saw the kind of difficulties the girls would be living under.
[60] And I felt that they did need some kind of ongoing support.
[61] And also I used to notice that there were quite a lot of em empty window, you know, in the flats, and erm you know I just got a feeling that this was really where I I found that I would be able to work, or that I wanted to work.
[62] So from there I I mentioned it to our provincial who's the i the one who's in charge of us all in this er area.
[63] And erm that I would like to live in the flats, and she just said, Why don't you?
[64] And erm I asked around to see if anyone else was interested in doing the same kind of thing.
[65] And another sister said she would be happy to join me in that.
[66] And so I approached erm Mr at Street.
[67] But I I wrote in and I was asked to see Mr .
[68] And erm you know and I had a letter then from Mr , saying that they would consider us for a place, in the flats.
[69] And erm after about six six or eight months, we were given a place off Walk. ... [...]
(PS25N) [70] Having lived there f for a few years, erm how did it contrast with what you actually expected?
[71] How did it with your original expectations?
(PS25M) [72] Well I think having erm had some contact
(PS25N) [73] Yes.
(PS25M) [74] in the flats
(PS25N) [75] Mhm.
(PS25M) [76] and also when girls moved in I would visit them in the flats
(PS25N) [77] Yes.
(PS25M) [78] and erm they came back and visited the mother and baby home too.
[79] So I knew the kind of complaints they had about the flats.
[80] And erm and so I I I was familiar with the kind of things erm that we expected.
[81] And well you know things like the noise of the blues parties and things like that were a great annoyance.
[82] I came in knowing that that was going to happen, so erm yo I think also I had the the freedom that I had chosen to live there, and I think that made erm the difference.
[83] I put up with with it then, knowing that I had chosen it.
[84] And erm also but I I was glad to experience the kind of things that people who were living in the flats without choice, had to experience.
(PS25N) [85] Mhm.
[86] Am I right in saying that one of one of your motivations behind living in the flats was the fact that erm the contact with people on on the flats, and you felt erm that it would help you erm
(PS25M) [87] That's right.
(PS25N) [88] if you actually went through the experience that they themselves were [...]
(PS25M) [89] That's right.
[90] It would help me and er it would give me a greater understanding.
(PS25N) [91] Mhm.
(PS25M) [92] Erm having actually experience that way of you know having to live.
(PS25N) [93] And that was and that was something that was achieved,ha having lived there a few years, you think [...]
(PS25M) [94] Well I don't think it was achieved, because I mean it's there's always
(PS25N) [95] Yeah.
(PS25M) [96] something I mean we moved out of the flats, partly because the flats were coming down,
(PS25N) [97] Yeah.
(PS25M) [98] and partly because I had to have an operation which meant that it wouldn't be easy for me to live in the flats any longer.
[99] And it just seemed that that was the time to give up the tenancy.
[100] But I would hope, I mean it has given me the the wish to go on living in a similar kind of situation. ...
(PS25N) [101] So a actually living on the flats, erm did that ha did that have any impact for your actual life itself compared to other places you've lived [...]
(PS25M) [102] Yes it erm it certainly did.
[103] Erm i because the people that w we were we near to the people and more accessible to them ,
(PS25N) [104] Yeah.
(PS25M) [105] I think they felt happier in coming to visit us.
[106] And I certainly think that they felt more comfortable coming to our flat, than they would have felt coming to a big private house somewhere
(PS25N) [107] Mhm.
(PS25M) [108] or other.
[109] And in that way I felt that I was closer to people.
(PS25N) [110] Mhm.
[111] So I'm right in saying, you had an open house in which people could
(PS25M) [112] That's right .
(PS25N) [113] [...] tenants in the flats could come in and
(PS25M) [114] Yes er we just
(PS25N) [115] talk
(PS25M) [116] Yeah er you know, we had an understanding that if erm because there were times when we wanted to just have some time together, or to pray together, and erm you know people who did come in and out to the flats, we erm told them that if th we were in and we didn't answer the door, it was actually because we were either doing something that we couldn't come.
[117] And er the people just accepted that, and they didn't keep them from coming, because at most of the time, er the
(PS25N) [118] Mhm.
(PS25M) [119] house would be open, even late at night or erm you know, early in the morning if necessary, people could come.
(PS25N) [120] Mhm.
[121] How many people did you in your er in your time on the flats, how many people do you think, have visited at some time?
(PS25M) [122] Oh.
(PS25N) [...]
(PS25M) [123] Aye.
[124] Yeah aye.
[125] Er we never kept account of of anything but
(PS25N) [...]
(PS25M) [126] I mean some evenings it would be quite quiet and maybe just the next-door neighbour
(PS25N) [127] Yeah.
(PS25M) [128] would be in or erm you know, maybe in the course of the evening or just the afternoon, we'd have had two or three people called.
[129] I remember one evening we went up to bed, and my head was just spinning because we'd had about ten ten people had come in, some of them overlapping and some had you know but I'd say at one stage we had about seven people in the flat together.
[130] Erm and although it was erm you know, it was good and the people themselves enjoyed talking to each other as well, it was a bit tiring [] at the end of the day.
[131] But er y you know that that kind of thing, erm we always hoped and felt was good.
(PS25N) [132] Mhm.
[133] What happened say on Sundays and erm and during religious holidays, did you get
(PS25M) [134] [cough] Well on Sundays I mean we went to to church in the
(PS25N) [135] Church yeah.
(PS25M) [136] the local church.
[137] And erm ... it was just the same as any other day.
(PS25N) [138] Mhm.
(PS25M) [139] Occasionally we had to go away to one of our other convents for meetings.
[140] But if we were there it was just the same.
[141] Erm but the door would be open for anybody who
(PS25N) [142] Mhm.
(PS25M) [143] wanted to come.
(PS25N) [144] And what k what kind of response did you have erm from from erm tenants of the flats, I mean how how did you were people people generally friendly.
(PS25M) [145] They w Oh yes.
[146] Erm you know any anyone we met and and spoke to I think some people held us in some kind of suspicion, but a lot of people were glad er to have the er you know have the company and erm that were were available to them.
[147] I thi I mean there were quite a number of people, I would say on the flats that we didn't make contact with at all.
(PS25N) [148] Mhm.
[149] I don't th I think when we spoke last week, erm referred to the fact that er [...] ethnic minorities erm [...] [...]
(PS25M) [150] That's right.
[151] Especially erm among the the the er the young Rastafarians.
[152] Now with the older West Indian people we would have you know, a passing sort of conversations and I know a couple of them came to help to get me to help them to fill in D H S S forms and things like that.
[153] Erm or I mean you know for advice about what they could do about D H S S.
[154] They came to the house to do that.
[155] But with the younger erm West Indians I didn't feel that we we we just didn't seem to be able to find an approach.
[156] And er part of it I think was because during the daytime you didn't see them very much, and at nighttime y you know they they would be obviously around erm going to blues parties and things like that.
[157] But it just didn't seem to be a time when you could er get an entry.
[158] You know so it was something that erm I didn't really feel that we did .
(PS25N) [159] Mhm.
[160] What do f er Moving on to look at the image that the flats have, erm [...] bad publicity the flats
(PS25M) [161] Mm.
(PS25N) [162] have had in the media.
[163] Erm how fair do you think it is, the actual th the actual coverage of the flats?
(PS25M) [164] Well I certainly didn't find it any more dangerous living in the flats, than I would have found living in .
[165] And I didn't feel any more afraid, walking into the flats, than I would have felt walking on the road at night you know in in where I'd been before.
[166] Erm also do you know like, people would say things like, Oh you must be very brave living in the flats.
[167] We didn't feel brave at all it was just, we lived there and we didn't feel under any kind of threat.
[168] And in fact, one night we'd gone to bed and left the key in the door, and the door unlocked, the key on the outside.
[169] And we came down in the morning as safe as we would have been anywhere.
[170] Erm I know there had been occasion when we had people sleeping on the the stairway and you know, I think occasionally [...] and but I think sometimes that was maybe somebody got home from a blues party, and had too much to drink or something, and they came into the warm, the heat w from the the downstairs flat, er k comes up on the stairwell, and I know there was someone sleeping there.
[171] Erm but I certainly never felt under any threat or any danger from people in the flats.
(PS25N) [172] Mhm.
[173] So you so really erm you'd say that the actual image of the flats, in the press and the media in general, [...] somewhat unfair.
(PS25M) [174] Yes.
[175] Yes erm well certainly from my own experience er I I don't really think that erm there was as much crime or break-ins or danger as there seemed to be portrayed in the
(PS25N) [176] Mhm.
(PS25M) [177] the media.
(PS25N) [178] Mhm.
[179] What having lived on the flats, erm what would you put forward as being some the good points of living there?
[180] What what were the [...] Yeah the good the good points for you personally, yeah .
(PS25M) [181] Do you mean the good points for me personally?
[182] Yeah.
[183] Well
(PS25N) [184] What did you find best about living there.
(PS25M) [185] Er well I think the experience that I gained of the the kind of erm living situation erm because I you know [...] we underwent the same kind of difficulties.
[186] Erm e even like things like emptying the bins.
[187] Er I know there were complaints that people used to throw rubbish out of the windows.
[188] Well it did take a bit of organization to get yourself to the end of the walk, erm with your your weekly rubbish or your daily rubbish, to get that put away.
[189] Er and you know to really see what kind of erm design, what design can do to the actual living situation.
[190] Erm I think too, the closeness to erm our neighbours and to to the people was a very good experience.
[191] And also just the the whole erm general feeling of being with the people in the flats.
[192] And I I think I had great admiration for the er in particular for the the woman who was the erm president of the tenants association.
[193] I think she did a marvellous job in really getting public attention to the situation and to the difficulties of the flats.
(PS25N) [194] Mhm.
(PS25M) [195] And er to the community worker who fight them.
[196] Well I really you know, felt that that was a good experience, to see people who were normally classed as powerless, having erm that kind of strength within themselves and and the the power to push on and to face lots of difficulties.
[197] And er you know, to face being knocked back.
[198] Er very often when they were trying to do things.
[199] And to do it without a lot without a lot of support from the a from the people who actually lived in the flats, although they organized things and got it going, and the people living there didn't seem to be motivated to give them the kind of encouragement erm
(PS25N) [200] Mhm.
[201] Why d why do you think why do you think it is that there wasn't that motivation?
(PS25M) [202] Erm [...] a lot of it was that people just accepted their situation and didn't think there was any way they were going to get anything different.
[203] I think erm maybe some of them felt it would be a waste of time fighting for it.
[204] Er but obviously you know, the the the courage and the the strength of the the people who did keep it going, erm really has achieved a lot.
[205] They they they've achieved all these people being moved out of the flats.
(PS25N) [206] Mhm.
[207] Which which was only which was the key [...]
(PS25M) [208] That's right.
[209] That was what they said how to do.
(PS25N) [210] Yeah.
(PS25M) [211] Because they er well the flats just i weren't good enough to be erm you know, structurally, structurally erm renovated or whatever.
(PS25N) [212] Why do you think it is that [cough] erm that the reputation of the flats has been er [...] I suppose gone off and I mean early on back in the early seventies, erm the flats were quite an attractive place to come to, it wasn't even that easy to get on the flats.
(PS25M) [213] Mm.
(PS25N) [214] And yet, gradually the reputation has gone down, it's become an area in which erm basically people who haven't been able to get housing.
(PS25M) [215] That's right.
(PS25N) [216] [...] been desperate.
[217] How is tha how is that's come about?
(PS25M) [218] Erm well you know, from my experience in the mother and baby home, it seemed that even when girls didn't want to live in Flats,
(PS25N) [219] Mhm.
(PS25M) [220] if they didn't take the offer of the flat, there was very little else they were going to get.
[221] It was either this flat or nothing.
[222] And they would take it.
[223] And I think that was the situation for a lot of people, that erm if they didn't take the the flat that was offered to them, then they would be virtually erm either still on a long waiting list or homeless.
[224] And er so I think the kind of people who were being housed.
[225] They weren't the kind of people who could get themselves together and organized, it was a more and more the bottom end of the scale and people who were actually erm you know, really powerless in many ways.
(PS25N) [226] Mhm.
(PS25M) [227] And so e with that the the decline of the flats really erm seemed to to go that way.
(PS25N) [228] Yes.
[229] What do you think the impact is on erm you know a community such as Flats when erm you know, when a majority of the people in the flats, are living on the poverty line, or below it?
[230] How does that e affect the community?
[231] You know [...]
(PS25M) [232] [...] It it seems there's a sort of general air of hopelessness.
(PS25N) [233] Mhm.
(PS25M) [234] Erm and you know and I [...] the thing that erm used to worry me maybe sometimes, was the acceptance of this as what they should be having.
[235] And that this was the the only way of life they could have.
[236] Erm that probably because they'd been at the bottom so long, er it didn't appear that there was
(PS25N) [237] Mm.
(PS25M) [238] gonna be much way up.
(PS25N) [239] Mhm.
(PS25M) [240] So say if I said to you, well [...] if and I said to you, Well what could I do?
[241] What can I do?
[242] This is my situation.
[243] So how would you respond to that.
[244] I said w you know what can I do to change the situation?
(PS25N) [245] Erm well I think erm the first thing I would probably do would be try and explain what your what the rights your rights were, and what sort of benefits you were entitled to.
[246] Because a lot of people didn't even know what they were entitled to.
[247] Or if they were told that they couldn't get so and so, that was it.
[248] So on occasions we could erm help people with that kind of thing.
[249] And I know it's difficult to get people motivated when they've been hit down and hit down so often, er but and I don't think that you could do er any great erm as as we said when we went into the flats, we didn't go in with any big, world shattering ideas of of causing a revolution or you know, of doing er putting on a big project or anything, it was actually to be with the people in their situation and gradually to help improve somehow, if we could.
[250] And you know I think that's all we could do, tackle i ind er with individuals as they came along.
[251] And I know a lot of things too with the girls who came to us, we tried to erm give them er a sense of their worth as a women and not to constantly be oppressed and to accept erm what their boyfriends did or said, and so on.
[252] You know, like erm maybe one of them'd say, Well you know, I'd say, well why don't you leave her with erm your boyfriend for the day, and you have a day off and have a break?
[253] Oh well it's my place to look after you know, the child.
[254] And I'd say well if there are two parents there whether it's whether they're married or whether they're not, the parents are there together, it was shared equally.
[255] We would try to erm put those kind of things forward.
[256] And where ag erm either erm a young mother or even older women who didn't have a husband to support them, then we would try and [...] we had one woman coming in and saying, she had six children and er her husband had gone off, and her giro hadn't been sorted out.
[257] She wanted to get the children to school and er als she'd no money for things for their breakfast.
[258] Well they did provide her with food, but also I took her up to the phone and showed her how to get in touch with D H S S and explain the situation.
[259] So those kind of things we tried to do.
(PS25N) [260] With your with regard to erm the tenants and and the contact you had with them, erm would you say that you found that people tended to be supportive of each other?
[261] On in in your opinion or not?
[262] Do people [...] obvi obviously there are virtually everyone at the flats, was in a is in a poor situation
(PS25M) [263] Mm.
(PS25N) [264] financially
(PS25M) [265] Erm
(PS25N) [266] Erm
(PS25M) [267] I would say that erm
(PS25N) [268] I mean how much of a community is there in the flats ?
(PS25M) [269] Oh there there isn't I I wouldn't say there was a big community spirit.
(PS25N) [270] Yeah.
(PS25M) [271] I would say that there are small groups of people who help each .
(PS25N) [272] Yeah.
(PS25M) [273] And erm you know, I I've had on occasion, when there have been a couple of people in our flat, we hadn't either done or said anything.
[274] I you know, one woman came in in distress again, her husband had left her and gone off leaving rent arrears.
[275] At that time, and erm she hadn't known anything about it, because he had looked after the benefit, and she thought he'd been paying the rent.
[276] And she came in with and it was bad enough him going off and leaving her, erm without her finding this as well.
[277] And she came in and she was telling us all about it, and another woman who was there, she was the one who, she went over and sat beside here and said, Oh never mind and, You know we we we'll get it sorted out, and, You're better off [laughing] without him [] . [laugh]
[278] Er you know sh there were she was saying things and we were just sitting er by her watching her, providing the cups of tea.
[279] Erm but you know there but on occasions when people really needed help, there was usually somebody erm that they could turn to.
[280] But as for er a sort of lively erm community spirit throughout the flats, it wasn't very much in evidence .
(PS25N) [281] Mm.
[282] Just basically small groups that would help each other.
(PS25M) [283] That's right.
(PS25N) [284] Did you have any contact with erm prostitutes who worked from the f from the flats or not?
(PS25M) [285] Erm yeah, we had a nodding acquaintance with quite a few of them, and I think they they were aware of who we were.
[286] Now whether they were suspicious of us because we were nuns, I don't know.
(PS25N) [287] Mhm.
(PS25M) [288] Erm but er w we didn't have erm sort of close contacts
(PS25N) [289] Mhm.
(PS25M) [290] er with them.
[291] I know one or two of them, erm now as well
(PS25N) [292] Yes.
(PS25M) [293] erm but you know, we didn't actually erm we didn't have them coming
(PS25N) [294] Mhm.
(PS25M) [295] to visit us.
[296] Not fr you kn from our we would [...] door but it was open
(PS25N) [297] Mhm.
(PS25M) [298] to them as to anybody else.
(PS25N) [299] Mhm.
[300] You're in your opinion what do you what were what were generally the motivation behind the girls becoming prostitutes, I mean was it
(PS25M) [301] I would say a lot of it is money.
(PS25N) [302] Mhm.
(PS25M) [303] Erm and I know one that I do know now said it's Certainly, she said, it's only for the money I do it, nothing else.
(PS25N) [304] Mm.
[305] So it's a case of the poverty that exists within the flats,
(PS25M) [306] Yes.
(PS25N) [307] erm
(PS25M) [308] I think so.
(PS25N) [309] forcing them onto onto the onto the
(PS25M) [310] Onto the onto the the the street.
[311] Yeah.
[312] And it was very easy for young erm young women erm who were either just on supplementary benefit or on unemployment, erm to get sucked into that way of living because I mean obviously they wanted nice clothes and things like that.
[313] [...] It was a way of getting money.
(PS25N) [314] Mhm.
[315] [...] look at the actual erm suitability of the flats say, for bringing up children.
[316] Erm how suitable [...] would you say the flats are for bringing up children?
(PS25M) [317] Well there's certainly not there's not much in the way of er play area for the children.
[318] There was the big concourse, but that was the general er walkway for everyone.
[319] And I know like er there there were lots of things [...] kids there on roller skates going along, walkways, people were shouting at them or you know trying to clear them off.
[320] Erm and there was just, and there was very little by the way of of grass even and er you know it was towards the end of the life of the flats really, that the play scheme got going.
[321] Erm for the children there.
[322] But and you know, like, for mothers er trying to get buggies and shopping and everything up, they'd either to go up stairs or down stairs.
[323] To get into their flats.
[324] And I think it it caused quite a lot of hassle and difficulty for people with young children.
[325] And then the er the older ones when they were if if they were sitting on the walls outside, the erm deck level flats, again [laugh] they were either disturbing the people there or, the people were out shouting at them to get away and sit on their own walls and things like that.
[326] But there was just very little erm convenience and accommodation.
[327] For either young children or teenagers.
(PS25N) [328] Mhm.
[329] What about for the elderly the [...]
(PS25M) [330] Erm well
(PS25N) [331] How do you e
(PS25M) [332] Again probably I had kind of personal experience of that, erm when I had the difficulty in walking myself.
(PS25N) [333] Yes.
(PS25M) [334] Erm.
[335] You know, the difficulty of getting up to the flats,i you know I I suffered from arthritis, and er you know i it was quite a strenuous business to get from the ground up to our own flat.
(PS25N) [336] Mhm.
(PS25M) [337] It was very tiring and actually the perspiration just used to be dropping off me by the time I got into the flat.
[338] So you know I think for er people who are elderly or disabled in any way, that was a difficulty too.
(PS25N) [339] Mhm.
(PS25M) [340] And I think perhaps, elderly people were quite afraid erm on the you know, living on the on the deck level.
[341] I know we had one lady erm lived underneath us and she was really very nervous and you know erm hardly came out of her flat at all.
[342] She used to get someone else to go and do her shopping for her.
[343] Because she was afraid.
(PS25N) [344] Mhm.
[345] So did you go and to see her at erm often [...]
(PS25M) [346] Yes we used to go to see her, and she came up a couple of times.
[347] But even to come out of her flat and come up to us, if we went down and brought her up, she would come.
(PS25N) [348] Was that due to personal experience or was it [...]
(PS25M) [349] No I think she was probably a nervous kind of person
(PS25N) [cough]
(PS25M) [350] erm as well.
[351] But you know, when if if a a clutch of erm young people were together, standing outside, she would get very frightened about it.
(PS25N) [352] Wh you know erm [...] to look at the actual facilities that erm is in the flats, erm [...] tenants' action group.
[353] You thought they di did a pretty good job.
(PS25M) [354] They they did they did an excellent job, and it was only a small group of people erm
(PS25N) [355] Yeah.
(PS25M) [356] together.
[357] And they got the survey going, and they got enough people to volunteer to go round and interviewing people living in the flats, to get all the information that was required.
[358] Erm they got the the media to come in on it.
[359] And they they really erm took on a mammoth task really.
[360] And er er I think they they did a marvellous job.
(PS25N) [361] Mhm.
[362] Did you have any contact where a lot of times in the flats, with the housing office?
(PS25M) [363] Erm very very little.
[364] Only erm on occasions when we needed repairs done.
(PS25N) [365] Mhm.
(PS25M) [366] When you had to keep pestering them to do it.
[367] And erm you know I know that was one difficulty, that people had a long time to wait for repairs.
[368] Erm as well.
[369] And er I know the housing office always had excuses that they had put the the report in and we were just waiting for someone to do it.
[370] But that could be you kn quite difficult on occasions.
[371] But we didn't have erm very close contacts.
(PS25N) [372] How did you find the the local shops, erm
(PS25M) [373] Oh well I found was a very cheap place to live .
(PS25N) [374] You found it Yeah.
(PS25M) [375] Yeah.
[376] And erm we did all our shopping in the local area and at the market.
[377] Here I mean [...]
(PS25N) [378] So you found the market good?
(PS25M) [379] Mhm.
[380] Yes.
[381] We found it we we lived you know very cheaply.
(PS25N) [382] If you what say if you say erm wanted to erm buy clothes would you go
(PS25M) [383] Yeah we we bought clothes in the
(PS25N) [...]
(PS25M) [384] local shops as well.
[385] Whatever [...] we could get.
[386] Erm a lot of the stuff, you know a lot of my clothes, I always make myself anyway, but I you know what [...] on the market then.
(PS25N) [387] What about for things [...] I mean, did you have a telephone yourself?
[388] Y I think you said [...]
(PS25M) [389] We did have a telephone in the house.
[390] Yeah.
(PS25N) [391] Erm what happened you know, most people in the flats hadn't got, a telephone, say there was an emergency,
(PS25M) [392] Yeah.
(PS25N) [393] erm How much of a problem was that for for tenants living on the flats?
(PS25M) [394] Well we we often had people coming and asking to use our telephone, because either the telephones were erm all out of order, or you could only dial for emergencies.
[395] Erm when we moved into the flat, at first, there was actually a telephone box on the deck.
[396] And just outside our place, but it was often erm out of order.
[397] And I think it w w was quite difficult for people because they'd either have to walk a long way to try and make a telephone call.
[398] If their giro didn't come, erm the only way of of contacting D H S S, was either to go down, or to walk all round until they could find a telephone to do it.
[399] Cos er we quite often had people in, erm asking to use the telephone to ring D H S S which, you know we let them do. [break in recording]
(PS25N) [400] Right, having lived on the er flats, what did you feel about the actual setup, you know, the rooms, the actual flats themselves?
(PS25M) [401] Er well the the a the flat that we lived in,
(PS25N) [402] Mhm.
(PS25M) [403] erm I I found it that it was a very pleasant layout.
[404] The living room was erm quite big.
[405] Er the kitchen wasn't very big but it was good enough, and then the bedrooms upstairs, I certainly wouldn't have liked to live in a downstairs flat.
[406] Er because I think you know the erm the bedrooms on er the bottom floor, er certainly I wouldn't have liked to sleep, erm in a downstairs bedroom like that.
[407] Erm the t er er you know I think the whole erm the layout inside was quite good.
[408] Erm but things like er you could see how people would lose heart with decorating, er because fairly soon after you'd decorated, the ceiling and the wall, erm just below the heaters and above the heater, cos it was almost, well it was almost completely black.
[409] And y erm you know, you would get pieces of grit and black heavy dirt dust coming out onto the furniture.
[410] Erm from the the heating, the heating system.
[411] And so that you know, could be erm very disheartening, when you were trying to keep things erm good.
[412] And then oh, at the end when we knew we were coming out.
[413] We just didn't even bother to to whitewash or to paint the ceiling again.
[414] Erm but the flats themselves could be nice.
[415] I mean we didn't have any damp or anything in erm our flat, but I've been in some of the downstairs ones, where they were very very damp.
[416] The erm you know sort of, the facilities like disposal of rubbish, erm and entrances were a bit difficult I found.
[417] Erm and the the chutes for getting rid of rubbish were just, well they were just erm not practical in any way.
[418] They didn't fit the kind of er bags you put in your d your bin for a start.
[419] Erm you couldn't put erm anything that was you know more than a small pedal bin size.
[420] Bag in and most people had a lot more than that to put down, so consequently they just dumped it if it didn't fit.
[421] So you know there were erm lots of little things like that erm in the layout of the flats which I thought weren't er well they just weren't practical.
(PS25N) [422] Mhm.
[423] Erm in your opinion er how how suitable do you think the flats are for actually bringing up s a family.
(PS25M) [424] Well they're not at all suitable really
(PS25N) [425] Mhm.
(PS25M) [426] erm because, to get in to the flat they'd either to go up stairs from the deck, or downstairs from the deck, and to try and manage that with small children, probably a buggy and shopping as well.
[427] Erm and people wouldn't know what to do, whether to leave the child at the bottom of the stairs and take the the shopping in or to to leave the shopping and have er you know, er think it might go missing or something by the time they take the child and the buggy.
[428] Up or down.
[429] And also there was just no proper play area, for children.
(PS25N) [430] Mhm.
(PS25M) [431] They played on the concourse, and er were always being shouted at by residents who didn't want them er playing just in front of their places.
[432] Er if they wanted to be on their roller skates or even on their bikes, then they were sort of going around the walkways.
[433] Again they were disturbing people living on the, either the deck level or the ground floor flats, because of the noise that that made.
[434] And there was no soft play area, at all for children.
[435] Until the the play centre was actually opened and that was towards the end of the life of the flats really.
(PS25N) [436] Mhm.
(PS25M) [437] Erm you know, [...]
(PS25N) [438] Yeah why Why was it that it was towards the end when things were that there was finally a play centre set up ra rather than actually erm in the earlier days?
[439] Have you any idea or not?
(PS25M) [440] Well I think it was just because of the the people who put the pressure on at that time, perhaps people who'd been in the tenants association before, didn't see that as a priority.
(PS25N) [441] Mhm.
(PS25M) [442] But the er last group of tenants found that that was a big priority and really pushed and worked till they you know to get it .
(PS25N) [443] You mean this is the present group you're talking of ?
(PS25M) [444] Yes.
(PS25N) [445] Yes.
(PS25M) [446] Yeah.
[447] But er I think it er may have been started with and earlier group I don't know, but I know you know, the certainly the the final stages of the playgroup were with
(PS25N) [448] Mhm.
(PS25M) [449] this presents tenants' action group.
(PS25N) [450] Mhm.
[451] Having lived on the flats, how do you feel about the fact that they're they're going to be coming down?
(PS25M) [452] Well I'm happy that the flats are [laughing] coming down [] because I don't think that they're really fit places for people to live.
(PS25N) [453] Mhm.
(PS25M) [454] I think there are much more pleasant ways of people living than than this erm set up that they have.
[455] And erm So I'm glad that the flats are coming down .
(PS25N) [456] Mhm.
(PS25M) [457] In that way.
(PS25N) [458] Mhm.
[459] What was it about the setup that you'd be most critical of?
[460] If you had to the real
(PS25M) [461] I
(PS25N) [462] key reasons [...] for the flats.
(PS25M) [463] I think the the the density
(PS25N) [464] Yeah.
(PS25M) [465] of people living in a a very small area.
(PS25N) [466] Mhm.
(PS25M) [467] Er the w the way erm people are put in to live like that.
[468] And you know the like erm a garden or a a small area in front of their own door, where they can put their children to play safely. ...
(PS25N) [469] [...] having lived on the flats erm what are you views on the actual policing of them? [...] or not?
(PS25M) [470] Erm.
[471] Oh well to be quite truthful we didn't see the police [laughing] around very often [] .
(PS25N) [472] You didn't see them round.
(PS25M) [473] Er you'd occasionally see two of them walking erm around, but unless there was specific for the from for them coming, erm I did see them er going into a flat.
[474] Now I don't know whether they actually broke the door down in the end, but they did gain entrance to a flat very near us, erm and they had dogs with them that night.
[475] And that was there was quite a group of police together, well with that.
[476] And there was quite a scuffle at that time.
[477] Erm but they seemed to be there for a specific purpose, but the normal day to day
(PS25N) [478] Mhm.
(PS25M) [479] er policing of the flats, I mean they weren't erm strongly in evidence.
(PS25N) [480] Mhm.
(PS25M) [481] I would say.
(PS25N) [482] What kind of policing policy would you actually say would have been would be suited to the flats anyway?
[483] And the fact that they were they were not seen too much I mean how do y Do you se Do you view that erm as being a good thing or not?
(PS25M) [484] Erm Well I I mean I think it it depends on your own perspective
(PS25N) [485] Mhm.
(PS25M) [486] on that one.
[487] Erm for me I would feel that the police having a r a low profile, erm is more beneficial er and I think perhaps maybe, erm the community policemen type of thing, could have been helpful.
[488] Erm but I you know I don't know that that was a got off the ground very well.
(PS25N) [489] Mhm.
(PS25M) [490] Er but I think you know, you've got sort of police walking around all the time, erm it can aggravate things rather than calm them.
(PS25N) [491] [cough] Having lived in the flats but also erm from your experience erm both as a nun and a social worker, erm looking at Flats Complex.
[492] Er it obviously has a lot in common with other inner city areas.
[493] Erm what kind of response do you think is required to to help areas such as Flats?
(PS25M) [494] Er well I think for anything erm really profitable to be h to happen, a great deal of money needs to be put into it .
(PS25N) [495] Mhm.
(PS25M) [496] And I think central government needs to look at the way in which inner cities are being constantly run down and erm problems highlighted and aggravated because of the circumstances.
[497] And I think lots of [...] need to be put in, but I think what needs to be done is to hear that the people who are actually living in the inner city, feel it is what they need.
(PS25N) [498] Mhm.
(PS25M) [499] It's not just what somebody else thinks they need.
(PS25N) [500] Yea [break in recording]
(PS25N) [501] So erm carrying on from where we left off, erm am I right in saying that, you feel that with areas such as this, it's very important more money's pumped in?
(PS25M) [502] Mhm.
(PS25N) [503] Mhm.
(PS25M) [504] Yeah.
(PS25N) [505] What areas When I say, What areas, I mean what mean c what erm would you like the money actually to to be ... used on?
(PS25M) [506] Er well I think more could be done with erm helping people who are unemployed.
(PS25N) [507] Mhm.
(PS25M) [508] Erm probably sett setting up some kind of small industry, erm or co-operatives.
[509] I think that's [...] needs to be looked at.
[510] And erm and I think something that er holding a community together.
[511] Some ways of of providing money to get resources which will erm have the kind of facilities that people want to use, and where they will come together and be together.
[512] Erm you know, not just er something that is er created and left there, it's with that erm the the thing in mind, that if if people want to have some place where they can get together, in the kind of atmosphere that they want.
[513] With something there erm of interest to them.
(PS25N) [514] Mhm.
(PS25M) [515] I think that needs to be done.
[516] But certainly I think erm with young and with the unemployed, that really is is quite a high priority to be looked at.
(PS25N) [517] What are the consequences of erm ... present policy continues and erm ... areas such as this simply don't get simply don't get extra money for reductions continue to be made?
(PS25M) [518] Mm.
[519] Well what's gonna happen
(PS25N) [...]
(PS25M) [520] is that the area will c continue to deteriorate,
(PS25N) [521] Mhm.
(PS25M) [522] the problems will just increase, and the poor and are just going to get poorer.
(PS25N) [523] So what are the consequences ... for the for areas such as this.
[524] I mean what does it mean for the actual people living here?
(PS25M) [525] It means that they are just going to be even poorer than they are now.
[526] Erm any bit of hope that they've got erm i is going to be gradually eroded as far as I can see.
[527] And erm I think we'll be going back to the kind of erm conditions that there were in the Victorian age and in Dickens' age.
[528] And in fact some of the the erm the that you look at now, could have walked out of a Dickens novel.
[529] And i I you know, it it just looks as though erm they're trying to force more and more onto the voluntary erm centres and the voluntary organizations, to provide resources and to provide help.
(PS25N) [530] Mhm.
(PS25M) [531] But it's not going to be the answer to the problem.
(PS25N) [532] How does it make you feel, the fact that er the way that areas such as Complex have gone downhill?
[533] How does it make you feel as a person [...] human consequence [...] .
(PS25M) [534] It makes me sad, it makes me angry and erm ... I don't know erm what other feelings it causes in me.
[535] Erm t th certainly it makes me really angry that people have to struggle for the basics and I you know I I just don't see how people who are on long term benefits, erm state benefits, can survive without getting into serious debt.
[536] ... Without getting into serious debt or going without erm things which are really necessary. ...
(PS25N) [537] Am I right in saying that you see erm the problems of areas such as this as being [...] extremely urgent something [...] done now?
(PS25M) [538] Yes.
[539] Yeah.
[540] I would say that if er if the inner cities are going to be saved in anyway, it's time it's past time now for things to happen.
[541] And people are either just going to be in despair or else they're going to revolt.
[542] Gonna be on thing or the other.
(PS25N) [543] I see.
[544] How how what way do you think it would.
[545] Having lived on the erm complex, what [...] ?
(PS25M) [546] Erm
(PS25N) [547] To the situation that people are in?
(PS25M) [548] Well I can I can see lots of people just giving up hope and thinking, there's no way that we're going to get any better.
[549] Erm I think there might be a small group who would be prepared to fight.
(PS25N) [550] Mhm.
[551] ... Do you f you you feel that erm [...] present government, erm do you feel that erm the other political parties [...] what they're erm suggesting with their policies for the inner cites, do you think they're any better?
(PS25M) [552] Well [laughing] when it goes up to election, everything is good [] .
(PS25N) [553] Mhm.
(PS25M) [554] But afterwards er it's difficult to say.
[555] Erm where whether they're any different from the ones that have gone before.
[556] Erm b I mean certainly I I would think that this government erm has less care for er the poor than than other governments would have.
(PS25N) [557] Mhm.
(PS25M) [558] Because they just don't seem to be aware of the difficulties, people have of living on on the breadline and under the breadline.
(PS25N) [559] What are the things that erm in addition to extra money, one of the things that you've abdicated pretty strongly is, involving the people themselves.
(PS25M) [560] Yes.
(PS25N) [561] Erm
(PS25M) [562] Yeah because I don't think anything will will work unless it's what the people who are living in the circumstances and living in the situation erm, if it's not going to relevant to their lives then, you're wasting the money.
(PS25N) [563] Mhm.
(PS25M) [564] You might as well hand it to them as as as a gift.
(PS25N) [565] Mhm.
(PS25M) [566] As give them something that's not gonna be erm of use, or something that they don't see
(PS25N) [567] Mhm.
(PS25M) [568] as what their needs are.
(PS25N) [569] Mhm.
[570] How difficult do you think it wo it would be in actually involving e people in that kind of decision making.
(PS25M) [571] I think it's difficult.
(PS25N) [572] Mhm.
(PS25M) [573] Because it takes time.
(PS25N) [574] Yeah.
(PS25M) [575] It takes a lot of erm energy and a lot of support.
[576] Erm and er but I think it's it's better to take the time, and provide something that is erm what is needed, rather than to just go ahead and erm do something without referring to the people it concerns.
(PS25N) [577] Mhm.
(PS25M) [578] And I think our own erm tenants' group here, is a good example of that.
[579] That although you know, erm interviewing eve if if not everybody on the flats, as many people as possible, as to what their feelings were about the flats and so on, to actually ca done all that, and involved them erm in the erm What has resulted is, the flats being vacated.
[580] Erm that took a lot of time, a lot of thought and planning.
[581] But in the end it has erm it's really paying off.
[582] And I think that's the kind of thing that needs to be done.
(PS25N) [583] Mhm.
[584] Erm I think we covered it briefly but erm [...] covered it perhaps in slightly greater detail when when we had the preliminary interview a few weeks ago.
(PS25M) [585] Mhm.
(PS25N) [586] Erm you spoke a erm a a bit about erm [...] other people outside p outside people, and their response to the actual flats, the fact that [...] erm they saw the problems of the flats as being erm linked to the people themselves.
(PS25M) [587] That's right.
(PS25N) [588] Erm it was basically their responsibility, the the decline rather than anything else.
(PS25M) [589] Mhm.
(PS25N) [590] Erm what do you feel about that?
(PS25M) [591] Erm.
(PS25N) [592] [...] have that feeling.
(PS25M) [593] Well the feeling is a erm a great lack of understanding of what it is to actually live erm in poverty.
(PS25N) [594] Mhm.
(PS25M) [595] And er you know, I feel that people are only too ready to believe erm others you know er er to believe er others you know er er to believe the people living in the flats.
[596] And don't want to see that it's any of their responsibility, at all.
[597] [...] that people are are forced to live in the flats, and are forced to live in on the minimum
(PS25N) [598] Mhm.
(PS25M) [599] amount of money that is that they could get.
(PS25N) [600] As social work [...] you've had quite a contact erm with people on the flats, erm living in the situation they actually [...] most people in the flats.
[601] How does what what what impact does that have on the actual problems that they actually [...] .
[602] To what ex what I'm saying is, To what extent has been living in the flats, has contributed [...] the life on the flats that they're in.
(PS25M) [603] Yeah.
[604] Erm well it certainly hasn't helped [laughing] the problems any [] .
(PS25N) [605] Yeah.
(PS25M) [606] Erm the people who have problems erm I would think, because of of feeling probably the way, they feel about living in the flats or about having to live in that way, doesn't make them feel any batter about erm you know any any other particular difficulties that they're having.
[607] And erm I think, too, the sort of when you've got all people herded together, all people with problems, there are very few who can help themselves and help each other.
[608] And therefore it just becomes a heavier and heavier burden.
(PS25N) [609] Mhm.
(PS25M) [610] Whereas if erm you know, the housing policy was such that er people aren't herded together in that way, erm then people can help each other.
(PS25N) [611] Mhm.
(PS25M) [612] Areas can help each other.
(PS25N) [613] Mhm.
[614] So what you're saying is that erm as most people are s such a high percentage of people in the flats, have pr have erm serious problems, it means it's basically th basically that all all their energy goes into actually trying to
(PS25M) [615] Trying to survive .
(PS25N) [616] get by themselves, survive themselves rather than being able to help others.
(PS25M) [617] Yes I think that, jut having said the word survive, there erm, makes me think of if er they are actually surviving, but not living. ...
(PS25N) [618] And you actually having lived in the flats, you saw that erm first hand.
(PS25M) [619] Yes.
[620] Yeah.
(PS25N) [621] You've worked am I right in saying, have you worked on the flats You'd had contact had you, with people in the flats erm prior to
(PS25M) [622] Yes I'd had contact
(PS25N) [623] erm
(PS25M) [624] with people in flats since about, ooh nineteen
(PS25N) [625] Mhm.
(PS25M) [626] seventy eight or so.
(PS25N) [627] Mhm.
(PS25M) [628] And er
(PS25N) [629] So actually seeing though first time, how much of a shock did it come to you, or was it just or was it expected [...] ?
(PS25M) [630] Erm well I think you know, having a th my I think my first visit to the fl to the flat complex was a big shock.
(PS25N) [631] Mhm.
(PS25M) [632] Erm because I'd never actually been in the flats before.
[633] And erm come here a young girl and a baby, and helping to install her in in on one of the flats, and just sort of e th there was something erm happened to be wrong with one of the rubbish chutes at that time, and we were actually kicking our way through rubbish on the stairs, erm near the chute to to get erm to come up.
[634] And I think that really erm horrified me.
[635] That this was the way people had to live.
[636] And er but erm I think my erm sort of brief contacts with coming and visiting, when I actually came to live on the flats, erm I I knew what to expect and er and erm I wasn't [...] I wasn't surprised at erm you know, how what the living conditions were like.
(PS25N) [637] Mhm.
[638] How did [...] as mo as as we've erm said, most people in the flats actually flats actually live on erm benefits, erm how how di how did people get by?
[639] I mean was it e day to day living?
(PS25M) [640] Yes [cough]
(PS25N) [641] Erm
(PS25M) [642] I think it was it was day to day living and er which in some ways could be more expensive than if
(PS25N) [643] Mhm.
(PS25M) [644] they were able to do a bit of erm say shopping for erm a longer period.
[645] I know sometimes erm people when they got their benefit, would try and do shopping for two weeks, but even that was unrealistic of how long they were, what they were buying was going to last for two weeks.
[646] Erm and so it was sort of going to the corner shop and buying what they could, er when they had the money, and sometimes they would borrow money from somebody whose benefit came on a different day.
[647] And er to to try and tide them over.
[648] But then again, when their own benefit came, that was a chunk out of it.
[649] To start with, you know.
[650] And er so it really was a hand to mouth existence and going without.
(PS25N) [651] Mhm.
(PS25M) [652] Living on very little.
(PS25N) [653] And yet how successful were people in getting [...] ?
(PS25M) [654] Some people I I
(PS25N) [655] Yeah.
(PS25M) [656] think were erm well to be quite truthful I don't know how [laughing] they managed to exist on it [] and have a little bit for the occasional treat, erm or to have a a packet of cigarettes or whatever.
[657] Erm how they managed to to survive on it, erm you know you just [...] you you you wonder how they can.
(PS25N) [658] Mhm.
[659] And yet some people managed to do i Yeah
(PS25M) [660] Because it's so little.
[661] Some people managed to do that.
[662] Yeah.
[663] but I think at
(PS25N) [...]
(PS25M) [664] greater expense because they ad to go without, quite a lot, and especially people with children.
[665] They they very seldom bought things for themselves, it was spent on the children.
[666] And I know I mean er people who just went round jumble sales erm to try and get clothing for themselves
(PS25N) [667] Mhm.
(PS25M) [668] and for the children.
(PS25N) [669] Mhm.
(PS25M) [670] And and I'm quite sure that many of the people erm living in the flats, never had anything new.
[671] They didn't have the experience of buying something nice and new for themselves.
(PS25N) [672] Mm.
[673] I know you mentioned something erm earlier on.
[674] Erm perhaps when we [...] today, about erm clothing that you managed to get together [...]
(PS25M) [675] Yeah well I I had erm access to quite a lot of you know, quite good clothing, er both children's and adult's and erm while I didn't feel that it was that people should have to depend on someone else to give them clothing, erm in some ways it went against the grain to do it.
[676] But rather than see people going without, erm if I had access to to good clothing, I didn't see why I shouldn't give it to them.
[677] Erm because after all it wasn't their fault, but they
(PS25N) [678] Mhm.
(PS25M) [679] they couldn't afford erm clothing.
[680] So I I would erm you know, quite often get bags of clothes, and s we sorted them out, and give them to people with erm quite large families and erm we used to also get some for the tenants' association for the jumble sales.
(PS25N) [681] Mhm.
(PS25M) [682] I'd get bags of clothing and and stuff for them.
[683] As well.
(PS25N) [684] And what was the response of people when they actually got this?
(PS25M) [685] Well anybody that we gave it to, they would be highly delighted to get it.
[686] And I mean that made you feel bad as well.
[687] Er [break in recording]
(PS25N) [688] Erm you said when we left er where we left off last time, about erm about people and how delighted the they were to get second hand clothing.
[689] But that's you know, basically related to the situation that people were in.
(PS25M) [690] Yeah.
(PS25N) [691] Erm I know it's a fairly difficult question, a wide question to ask for that matter, but erm how do you feel with the society, should should erm should respond you know, to to in order to actually help areas such as Flats?
(PS25M) [692] [laugh] It is a very wide question alright .
(PS25N) [693] Yes it is yeah.
[694] What are the kind of things?
[695] Yes.
(PS25M) [696] Er but certainly I I mean like, I mentioned before what a what areas like need is is erm certainly more money being put in to actually providing the facilities.
[697] Whether it's living facilities, or erm for facilities for people to use, er that certainly needs to be done.
[698] And I think erm as for you know, what we as a sho society should be doing, erm you know that's the whole economic policy, erm would really have to be looked at.
[699] And erm I think too, some ways of allowing people to have more power over their own lives, and not just being at the mercy of agencies, such as social services and erm
(PS25N) [700] Mhm.
(PS25M) [701] you know, because they don't know what their right are with And you know, I think places like the law centre, which fight for the rights of people in , you know to develop that that kind of service for people.
[702] Whereby erm we don't end up actually doing the things for them, but we show them the way that they can do them for themselves.
(PS25N) [703] Mhm.
[704] So how [cough] how do you see the role of soci social services erm [...]
(PS25M) [705] At the moment?
(PS25N) [706] Yes how do you see at the moment how do you and how how
(PS25M) [707] Well
(PS25N) [708] How should it be, or how is it?
(PS25M) [709] Well
(PS25N) [...]
(PS25M) [710] h how it is erm I think maybe first, er
(PS25N) [711] Mhm.
(PS25M) [712] a lot of our erm work is i sort of the statutory things that comes to us, either through care orders or through the court or through supervision of children in particular.
[713] Erm so a lot of our time is done in that rather then in preventive or developmental erm work.
[714] And I know that you know that that was our hope in moving into the area, that we'd be able to engage local people as volunteers and you know really develop services erm in the area.
[715] But so far, because of the other pressures that are on us, that just hasn't been able to be followed
(PS25N) [716] Mhm.
(PS25M) [717] through.
[718] Erm and I I I think again like, what should erm we should be doing is more of the developmental, preventive type of work.
(PS25N) [719] Mhm.
[720] [cough] So what would that actually involve?
[721] You say you're saying preventative.
[722] Erm
(PS25M) [723] Well
(PS25N) [724] what would that
(PS25M) [725] erm being able to help families that erm have problems in coping with their children and so on.
[726] Rather than having to remove the children from them, to have more resources at our disposal, to either help erm parents to to develop better parenting skills, or erm [laughing] I mean, [] because a lot of the problems again are from poverty, a lot of the pressures are from poverty.
[727] And you know i if a chil a child is bruised, very often erm you know if it it especially with you know, maybe a mother who has a few children to look after, and she's on her own twenty four hours a day with them.
[728] Erm it is no wonder that she would lash out at a child.
[729] You know with the and when she doesn't know where she's going to get enough money to feed, clothe them and especially at a time like now, when all these adverts are on television for, you know the toys that children want, and they just haven't the ability to provide those those things for the children, much as they would want to do it.
(PS25N) [730] Mhm.
[731] How much pressure do you feel people are under in Flats [...] under to [...] a family?
(PS25M) [732] I think they're under a great pressure and you know th I think it's erm you know, quite amazing really, that people survive as well as they do, given the pressures they're that they are under.
[733] And you know, sort of given the given the lack of sort of environmental helps.
[734] Erm because i I mean, even living in can be a depressing experience in itself.
[735] Sort of looking out of your window and seeing just a blank concrete wall in front of you, day after day after day.
[736] Erm doesn't do much to lift your spirits if you're getting up feeling a bit down in the morning.
(PS25N) [737] Mhm. [...]
(PS25M) [738] So that kind of pressure
(PS25N) [739] Mhm.
(PS25M) [740] er the pressure of erm coping with children in in that kind of environment, without enough money really, and also erm you know, things like having sleepless nights because of noise and things like that, and having to get up and cope.
[741] Erm just the same as if you had had a good nights sleep.
(PS25N) [742] Mhm.
[743] How much of a problem had the noise been?
(PS25M) [744] Well at times,s erm you know the the noise from blues parties could be really distressing.
(PS25N) [745] Mhm.
(PS25M) [746] And I mean whenever there was one in the flats, you could hear it probably throughout the whole complex.
[747] Erm but you know when it was in a block that was fairly near you, erm er I think probably children were the least affected by it, because er I think they adapt to things like that more quickly.
[748] But I mean a mother that couldn't sleep all night, and get up the next day, having to cope with the family, erm you know,thing things like that, they're very difficult.
(PS25N) [749] Mhm.
[750] [...] with regard to blues parties,
(PS25M) [751] Mm.
(PS25N) [752] erm [...] what is your attitude towards them I mean, obviously something I suppose that people who actually take p who actually go [...] see it as being a form of en enjoyment for them.
(PS25M) [753] Yeah.
(PS25N) [754] Erm yet at the same time,obvi at the same time, it's affecting other people in the actual flats, so what is the solution?
(PS25M) [755] Erm
(PS25N) [756] To that?
[757] I mean do you actually stop blues parties full stop
(PS25M) [758] I don't think
(PS25N) [759] or do you lose them s somewhere else?
(PS25M) [760] Yeah I think moving them somewhere else, erm which would be a a maybe a bit further away,
(PS25N) [761] Mhm.
(PS25M) [762] erm from where people are actually living and trying to to get a nights sleep.
[763] Erm I know I remember I spoke to erm I said in an earl the earlier part of the
(PS25N) [764] Mm mhm.
(PS25M) [765] interview, that we didn't have erm much sort of inroads with the the young Caribbean community or the Rastafarian community, but erm you know I have spoken to one or two, and I remember speaking to one who said, that they had gone after a warehouse somewhere.
[766] Erm I think it's somewhere down near where the Road police station is now, and erm you know they had been hoping to get premises down there.
[767] And something like that I thought would have been a very good solution.
(PS25N) [768] Mhm.
(PS25M) [769] Because they would be still free to go to their parties and they they wouldn't be affecting neighbours in that way.
(PS25N) [770] Mhm.
[771] [...] earlier we mentioned about erm particularly about the actual stress that can people can g in erm living in the flats and also the financial difficulties.
[772] Erm what social services erm policy say with regard to there's a certain amount of money available t say for if people came to [...] family.
[773] And they happen to have a bill they can't pay.
[774] In that situation, social services do have certain
(PS25M) [775] We do have erm [laugh] [...] it's rather you know, it's it's quite a small amount
(PS25N) [776] Mhm.
(PS25M) [777] really when you think of the extent of the problems in the area.
[778] So erm and how we use that money is at our discretion.
(PS25N) [779] Mhm.
(PS25M) [780] There is a certain amount of money for f families.
[781] And I mean I'm talking in matter of a few thousand pounds, to do for for a whole year.
[782] And erm so we the the way we work it out ourselves, is that we don't actually pay people's fuel bills.
(PS25N) [783] Mhm.
(PS25M) [784] What we have done, when they've been cut off with erm electricity in particular, erm we liaise with D H S S for them to help their erm to get their their deductions made a at a level which doesn't leave them erm you know too short of money.
[785] And we also have paid for the reconnection fee.
[786] Cos usually, if it's been cut off, there's a [...] about twelve fifty or something, to be reconnected.
(PS25N) [787] Mhm.
(PS25M) [788] we pay the rec reconnection fee, but not the electricity bill .
(PS25N) [789] Mhm.
(PS25M) [790] And we also have given out food erm and money for food.
[791] If someone comes and they've actually run out of food, and they've you know, for some reason or other their giro is either held up or you know, they've had a big expense er which they've had to pay, then we would provide them with something.
[792] Erm to keep them to tide them over.
(PS25N) [793] Mhm.
(PS25M) [794] But at the same time, we are not er doing that, and letting D H S S out of s the the kind of provision they ought
(PS25N) [795] Mhm.
(PS25M) [796] to be making.
[797] I think if if we just hand out money for those kind of things, then the pressure is taken off D H S S
(PS25N) [798] Mhm.
(PS25M) [799] and that's not right either.
(PS25N) [800] Mhm.
[801] So do you, as a social worker, have much erm do much work with D H S S?
(PS25M) [802] Yes we we have erm a lot of connection with D H S S
(PS25N) [803] Mhm.
(PS25M) [804] erm you know we know the special case officers in each of the areas, and we also liaise erm on behalf of people who come in with problems to them.
[805] We also provide the facility of the telephone here.
[806] For people to make their own connections to the
(PS25N) [807] Mhm.
(PS25M) [808] D H S S, because very often, they either can't get telephone boxes working, or they're hanging on so long that they don't have enough money
(PS25N) [809] Mhm.
(PS25M) [810] to put in to the box.
(PS25N) [811] Mhm.
(PS25M) [812] So you know we we provide that kind of service .
(PS25N) [813] mhm.
(PS25M) [814] We also you know, do our best to to get them to er pay pay up when er when when they can, but I mean we're not always successful in that.
[815] Especially now with the single payments being cut back so drastically.
(PS25N) [816] Mhm.
[817] And what kind of impact is that likely to have, the cutback on single payments ?
(PS25M) [818] Well it I mean already, it is having quite an im impact erm especially for items like furniture and bedding, and I mean bedding doesn't last for ever, especially with a family, and I know erm they're allowed every so often , but erm I mean I think erm the the cutbacks are becoming more and more and more and and people seem to be [...] which means that we have to look around for voluntary erm agencies that ca such as , who can provide us with furniture or beds and bedding. ...
(PS25N) [819] So that's erm in areas such as Flats and [...] the effects are pretty serious [...]
(PS25M) [820] Yes.
(PS25N) [821] the ch the change in policy.
(PS25M) [822] Yes.
[823] Yeah.
(PS25N) [824] Mhm.
[825] How does it make you feel, you know as a social worker, erm when whatever you in whatever you do, every [...] you do, no matter how effective you are, that you're That when you leave those people, they're in they're basically in that same situation and equally v and still vulnerable.
(PS25M) [826] Yeah.
(PS25N) [827] Erm
(PS25M) [828] Erm well it doesn't make you feel very good.
[829] [laugh] Er I mean, I I would say that the majority of people in this office, carry a lot of erm anxiety and pressure home with them.
(PS25N) [830] Mhm.
(PS25M) [831] Er just because of this, you know, precise thing.
[832] That erm you know, whatever you do, is very little, and we're not really taking the pressure off, very much.
(PS25N) [833] Mhm.
[834] I know that erm that we haven't real haven't covered in great deta detail is erm, how you yourself became a social worker and [...] career background.
[835] Erm so erm [...] you've been a social worker for how many years?
(PS25M) [836] I've been a social worker since nineteen seventy, so ten years this year.
(PS25N) [837] Ten years?
(PS25M) [838] Yeah.
[839] Erm I went into residential social work first, erm but that was after twenty years of teaching erm in various parts of the country, I was in , Bradford, and then I spent seven years in Africa, where I also erm was a teacher, and when I came back from Africa, I was asked if I would just replace someone that was going on a course, in a residential er the mother and baby home it was actually.
[840] And so I said, Yes, I would do that for the year and then I'd get back into teaching.
[841] But when I actually erm got into the social work side of it, and i saw what the needs there were, erm and it was at the particular time too when you know, lots of teachers were sort of being made redundant, or at at least the er the numbers in schools weren't so high.
[842] And I felt that that there was more pressure in social work than there was in teaching.
[843] There was a greater need for social workers.
[844] So I spent two years in the mother and baby home, then, and decided that if I was going to stay in social work, then I would erm be better a able to help people if I could do it from the theoretical background as well as the feeling erm background er of my own my own personal feelings.
[845] Erm so I did the two year C C Q S W course.
[846] I went back to the mother and baby home, for another almost two years, and from there that was I think I said at the beginning, how I actually was introduced to Flats, and it was actually living at the mother and baby home, doing far more work with girls
(PS25N) [847] Mhm.
(PS25M) [848] who moved out, that led me to want to live in the flats.
(PS25N) [849] Mhm.
[850] Do you [...] the fact that you actually lived in the flats [...] few years er at the same with you working on the flats as well.
[851] How much of a benefit has that been, the fact that people are seeing you i as a as a professional who you know, who works for social services,
(PS25M) [852] Mhm.
(PS25N) [853] living amongst amongst that, I mean
(PS25M) [854] Erm but the first year that I was in the
(PS25N) [855] Yeah.
(PS25M) [856] flats, I was I was working erm in with a voluntary agency.
(PS25N) [857] Yes.
(PS25M) [858] I wasn't actually with Social Services .
(PS25N) [859] Mhm.
(PS25M) [860] Although I was doing the same kind of of erm work.
[861] And then, as the job came up with Social Services, and I joined it, I did have some reservations, because I felt that maybe people would see me as sort of having deserted them and joined [laughing] them [] , you know, er brilliant movie?
[862] Thank you. [advert]
(PS25N) [863] Mhm.
(PS25M) [864] but for what I am.
(PS25N) [865] Mhm.
(PS25M) [866] And er that they they still, even when I have to do things, which are not very erm happy either for me or for them, erm I'll just give the example of removing a child from
(PS25N) [867] Mhm.
(PS25M) [868] the parents, erm well that is very difficult on both sides.
[869] Erm I I still feel that there is an element of trust that people have in me, erm because of having lived with them.
(PS25N) [870] Mm.
[871] Mhm.
[872] But I mean, how how often does that happen anyway? [...] is that I presume that's very much a last resort.
(PS25M) [873] It's ve Yeah, very much a last resort and it's usually, erm as a result of ill treatment.
[874] You know, that that that
(PS25N) [875] Mhm.
(PS25M) [876] that we would have to do that.
[877] And not always, you know, it's not always the parents who have who have erm either bruised the child or something but
(PS25N) [878] Mhm.
(PS25M) [879] perhaps they've left them with someone who has done that.
(PS25N) [880] Mhm.
(PS25M) [881] You know the kind of erm the kind of accident that can happen .
(PS25N) [882] Mhm.
(PS25M) [883] Erm and you know there's er you know really er it's something that we're not the only ones who make the decision.
[884] While we actually do the a the removal, we usually have other agencies with us such as the N S P C C, the police, who have to carry out the investigation into what has actually happened, and erm in the end the court.
[885] Because if the court doesn't say that, Yeah, this child must remain in care, erm you know.
[886] But we actually do the removal.
(PS25N) [887] Mm.
(PS25M) [888] And er you know that's quite traumatic.
(PS25N) [889] Mhm.
[890] Have there been many cases on the flats or has this been a
(PS25M) [891] Well Er erm dunno that
(PS25N) [...]
(PS25M) [892] I mean, there have been some in the area, which haven't been that flats as well.
(PS25N) [893] Mhm.
(PS25M) [894] You know.
[895] Erm in my own, particular case, I have done it twice.
(PS25N) [896] Mhm.
[897] Mhm.
[898] Is there any ... danger that erm that it could happen more, er that you could have the same happening say in Flats as a similar thing happening say in erm more middle class areas, such as, yet erm ... there being more risk of of it of it of erm parents losing the child, say in some areas such as Flats, and yet in ,
(PS25M) [899] Erm
(PS25N) [900] somehow that [...]
(PS25M) [901] Well I I I would say that if it comes to the attention of Social Services, that we would treat it the same.
(PS25N) [902] Mhm.
(PS25M) [903] In that we would go through the same procedure, whether they lived in
(PS25N) [904] Mhm.
(PS25M) [905] or in .
(PS25N) [906] Mhm.
(PS25M) [907] Erm you know, we're not out to get [laugh] to get them.
(PS25N) [...]
(PS25M) [908] And I think that's the you know, a general feeling, that's not just me.
[909] You know from knowing how it affects other
(PS25N) [910] Mhm.
(PS25M) [911] workers as well.
(PS25N) [912] Mhm.
[913] Yeah would you would you say that it's erm it's A, more of a problem in places such as Flats, anyway than than say [...] ?
[914] Is it is it any more problem there? [...]
(PS25M) [915] Well I would say that the people in Flats are under greater pressure.
(PS25N) [916] Mhm.
(PS25M) [917] And you know, I would say that erm because of the pressures, it is likely that people
(PS25N) [918] [...] Yeah.
(PS25M) [919] erm might lash out more.
[920] It's not surprising considering
(PS25N) [921] Mhm.
(PS25M) [922] the pressures.
(PS25N) [923] Mhm.
[924] But that's but that's erm not particula not because of the people, it's actually
(PS25M) [925] No.
(PS25N) [926] because of the environment those people are [...] , isn't it ?
(PS25M) [927] Yeah.
[928] ... I would think that.
(PS25N) [929] Mhm.
[930] ... Erm do you know you you've you spoke erm earlier erm about the church, erm ... [cough] how do you see how so you se do you see the role of the church, erm in ar in er inner cities?
[931] What what do you think they could do do?
(PS25M) [932] Erm well I think, what they have to do first, is
(PS25N) [933] Mhm.
(PS25M) [934] is to align themselves with the people.
(PS25N) [935] Mhm.
(PS25M) [936] Erm and I think actually being part of them and you know like, inner city churches, living right the you know the vicar's and the the congregation's not just coming from say to , but actually living in the area.
[937] And er just sort of by their lives, becoming relevant as well.
(PS25N) [938] Mhm.
(PS25M) [939] And I I think I must say that i it's well certainly in Nottingham, my experience is that the church of England is and [...] perhaps other churches, are more aware of this than the catholic church is.
[940] Even though i belong to the catholic church, that's my feeling, erm and my experience, I would say, since living in .
(PS25N) [941] Mhm.
[942] So is that I mean [cough] to what extent do you feel erm the ch the church generally has moved along the road that you'd like to see it?
[943] Move.
(PS25M) [944] Erm it's it's moving, I think, slowly.
(PS25N) [945] Mhm.
(PS25M) [946] First of all it's becoming aware
(PS25N) [947] Mhm.
(PS25M) [948] it's becoming aware that people who live in the inner cities are not bad.
(PS25N) [949] Mhm.
(PS25M) [950] That a lot of it is due to the the living conditions and the unemployment and all the rest of it.
[951] I think, and once the awareness is there, then the movement can begin.
[952] And I think that's what is happening.
(PS25N) [953] Mhm. [...] [recording ends]