Weʼre raising £20,000 to prevent the forced sale of our family home
- Bristol and the South West
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We are not your conventional family. I grew up in care and knew all through my adolescence that I would adopt children so that they could have a loving, permanent family and not experience the insecurity I knew as a young person. So that is what I did. I gave birth to one son, spent a lot of time roaming in Africa and ended up adopting 6 other children. I realized early on that I may never find the perfect partner but I could at least create the perfect family for myself. So I am a very proud mum to seven children, aged 33-18, 4 of whom I adopted from orphanages in Zambia. I have brought my children up alone and of course there have been ups and downs but, without getting too sentimental about it, my children fill my life with joy and of course there's never a dull moment.
The issue in bullet points :
1. The court ruled to pay a man who never owned my house, never lived there and only ever co-signed the loan agreement £150,000.
2. I was not informed that there was a court case - and therefore could not lodge any appeal -so there is nothing legally I can do to prevent this man stealing £150,000 from me and my kids.
3. The house is scheduled to go to auction in 5 months time unless I repay him.It will therefore be sold for a fraction of its value.
4. I am asking for support of £20,000. I am not someone who sits around and waits for things to fall into my lap. Getting some assistance towards this sum would give me a massive psychological boost.
The ins and outs of the story:
Anyway, let me get to the point. About 20 years ago we moved to the Caribbean - I had a teaching post there and i felt it was important for my children's sense of identity for them to live in a black majority country. After a year, I got a promotion to the university, at which time, I decided I should try and buy a house. The bank suggested i get someone to co-sign the loan, believing that it would be more easily accorded, given the number of children I was supporting.I asked my boyfriend at that time if he could co-sign - things were looking good, I had guaranteed employment so felt that there was no risk whatsoever for him. He agreed and so become co-responsible for the loan although I was the sole owner of the house.
To cut a long story short, my relationship with this man was quite fleeting. The education system on the island was not so good and youth unemployment was very high, so I decided my children would do better back in the UK - so we left the island in 2008. I had tenants in my house and all was going well and my former boyfriend said he would keep an eye on things for me.
Unfortunately, he didn't do a very good job so by 2014 the house had been empty for a while and consequently the bank considered that I had defaulted on the mortgage. The loan was transferred to a credit agency. I worked really hard and paid off £30,000. But then within a few months I got cancer and was involved in a car accident so my focus shifted to keeping a roof over our heads in the UK and finding ways to earn money whilst being ill.
It took me a couple of years to properly recover and I was surprised not to have been contacted by the credit agency in the meantime. However, out of the blue in May 2018, I received information that a bailiff had called at my house in the Caribbean. I emailed him and was given a document which I couldn't make any sense of. I tried contacting the credit agency - but no reply. The bailiff wrote to me in November to say I was due in court in January 2019. I realized that things were serious and attempted to recruit a solicitor to defend me. It took a bit of doing but eventually a solicitor agreed to take on my case.
I was really pleased because I had been working night and day seven days a week and had managed to amass 75% of the money owing on the house. However, when I spoke with the solicitor, she informed me that my former boyfriend had managed to sue me in 2015 and had succeeded in persuading the judge to give him a claim to 50% value of the house - namely 150,000 euros. To say I was gobsmacked is an understatement. This man never lived in my house, never paid a penny towards it, is not a joint owner of the house. Yet somehow, he has managed to represent himself as a victim and swindle me - with the help of the court - out of an absolute fortune.He had also - deliberately, in my view, used obsolete addresses in the UK so I would not know what was going on.
Of course I protested. And my solicitor admitted she has never seen anything like this and is scandalized at this conduct but because of the time elapsed, I can no longer appeal anything and I have to pay this man £150,000. I should add that he has no children, has worked for 30 years as a school teacher/librarian and has a great pension. So definitely not in need.
This situation enrages me for lots of reasons. Firstly, I can deal with someone attacking me but I am not prepared to watch someone attack my children and deliberately impoverish them. Secondly, this is of course financial abuse. The idea of a man enriching himself through a woman's labour - well, really, I am going to be slaving away for the next few months to get the money together - really sickens me. It makes me see this man as a pimp. But i am not prepared to see my house sold for a fraction of its value and watch our family's wealth plundered even further.
I know there are real life and death emergencies - and this is not one. But it is an attack on a woman and her children - and my children went through a lot of suffering at the start of their lives - which makes the scenario even more sickening.
It would be great if people felt able to help. Thank you.
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About the fundraiser
Bristol and the South West
I am a single mother of 7 children, 4 of whom I adopted in Zambia. I work as an artist and producer, writing plays and poetry. Please read the story of how the courts in the Caribbean enabled a man to rob me of £150,000.