A Room Of One’s Own

I’ve seen a few patients recently who have made me thinkabout the welfare state.

The first is a young woman in her mid-thirties, Amy, who is depressed. She is a self employed mobile beauty therapist who works in her clients’ homes. She is also one of the sofa surfers that the Northern Doctor blogged about last month. She has been living with some friends since the breakdown of a serious relationship, and the depression has been building since this break up. Her friends are now expecting their first baby and she has to move on. But because she is depressed she has been unable to earn as much as she needs, and certainly not enough to rent a room in this expensive part of the south east. Now she knows, and I agree with her, that her uncertain housing situation is contributing to her depression – she is clearly stressed that she is now homeless, and if she had decent housing she would have more of a chance. But as a single female with no children and no other medical problems the chances of her getting somewhere before she has to leave her current house are pretty small. She told me, bitterly, that getting pregnant would be a disaster for her, but at least she’d get further up the housing list.

The second, Beccy, I heard from for the first time in about a year. She rang up for some advice about a minor post-natal problem, and I was quite surprised, as I hadn’t realised she was even pregnant. I have been seeing her for about three years and she has been in a precarious housing situation throughout. She too used to tell me that she had too much pride to get pregnant to get a flat. When I saw her prior to my most recent maternity leave she was homeless and living in a hostel, waiting for a flat to come up for her. It had taken her months just to get the hostel place. She was broke, depressed and self-harming and lived a very chaotic life. She’s now got a baby, in a nice flat with a good boyfriend, and told me she was “really really happy”. I wonder what came first?

The third, Charlie, is a mum already. She has two children but due to financial problems she and her husband had moved in with her parents when the second was born and the first was very young. She developed severe postnatal depression. Her husband left her. She couldn’t cope with the children and her mum took over the parenting, so much so that Charlie wasn’t really allowed to get involved at all. She left. She now lives with friends three hundred miles from her children and told me that she was such a bad mother that they’re better off without her. She’s pregnant again, father unknown, and doesn’t believe in abortion. She says, I think it will be easier this time as I’ll get my own place this time. It all went wrong before as we didn’t have our own space.

It all paints a rather more subtle picture than the “feckless single mum” headlines, doesn’t it?



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6 responses to “A Room Of One’s Own

  1. I had never thought of such a link. Desperately sad situations each and every one though. Makes you wonder how many babies are born due to the way the system works, doesn’t it?

  2. no one

    this country incentivies the wrong people to have kids

    and heavily disincentivises those in best position to bring up kids

    also re housing for homeless its even worse for a single bloke, work all your life, pay your taxes, get ill, loose your job, and find you cannot afford to pay for accomodation and you end up on the street, no safety net at all – for a group of people who pay way over the odds into the system

  3. NiceLadyDoctor

    On your second point I quite agree, see my previous post https://niceladydoctor.wordpress.com/2008/07/16/the-poverty-trap-breastfeeding/

    My personal opinion is that although the current position is not optimal, the alternative – homeless young mothers and children – is even less acceptable.

  4. no one

    poor kids in the worst estates should be able to escape through a decent education rather than having kids in order to get state handouts, radically improving the schools on the sink estates is the only way to start solving this mess

    as much as politicians talk about ramping up education quality the sink schools on the sink estates have never ever been any good and remain a shambles

    using money wisely to ramp up quality of education is only way to solve the so called child poverty problem in the medium to long term, throwing more money at people for not working is no way to solve child poverty

    in simple terms if folk cannot afford to bring kids up they shouldnt be having them

    and the fear in the hard working sections of society who dont have kids cos they know they have to work 7 day weeks to survive is a disgrace

  5. claire

    Dear NLD:
    You , like your colleague bloggers “A Fortunate Man ” and “Random Acts of Reality” make me glad that we have such thoughtful people seeing to our welfare who share their daily professional dilemmas wih us so we can understand a little more about just how hard it is to do your job. Thanks!

  6. dutchdoctor

    There is something more going on in the UK. In The Netherlands young mothers get support as well, but there are not a lot of people who get pregnant just to get benefits/ house etc. At least as a practising doctor I have not come across it.

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