King's Cross Voices
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Karen was interviewed by Sarah Friday, a volunteer with King's Cross Voices on 25th July, 2004. Karen was born in 1961. She was raised in Kent and Wales. Karen returned to England in the 1980s with her husband and young son after having lived and taught in the Sudan. After living in short life housing in Clapham South in London, they found themselves homeless. The Council gave them temporary housing in a hotel in Argyle Square, in King's Cross, where they lived for a few months before more permanent housing for them could be located.

Park Hotel
Park Hotel
Photo Credit: King's
Cross Community
Development Trust

Duration: 4 minutes 7 Seconds. Size:3.77mb

Karen: And then we got given the chance of living in a short life housing in Clapham South which was through Brixton Housing Coop, sort of friends that I still knew that still worked in that and I was still a member apparently. Yeah. We went back to visit Sudan in sort of February March '88 for the first time and we spent about 7 weeks there but while we were away we had a letter from our friends saying basically we've had the letter from the Housing Association saying we've got to move out so come back. So we came back and the Housing Association wasn't able to rehouse us so we looked around at private renting, realized we couldn't afford it. I think my husband was working, had been working on like an elderly care project in Croydon but it wasn't well paid, it was one of these community program type jobs they had then so it was a bit more than being on the Dole but he was doing something. But I think it may have just come to an end before we went away to Sudan . So he had no work. Our friend was a student, he was willing to come in with us so he had a grant cheque to put down as a deposit possibly. But it didn't work out, we didn't find anything. We were on Lambeth's Housing List so we approached them and they said they couldn't help us until we were actually homeless which, but in the end the Housing Association said that they were going to evict us and they were willing to put that in writing and Lambeth decided that was good enough so they accepted us before we actually were evicted so we avoided going through that process.

So we were accepted by Lambeth Council as a homeless family. Our friend went off and rented a room somewhere on his own. And we were, we basically had to sort of present ourselves at the Housing Office in Brixton in Acre Lane, no Brixton Hill and they put us into Bed and Breakfast that same day in a hotel in King's Cross which was Park Hotel in Argyle Street. And we lived there for two months although we thought it would be longer than that initially. Initially moved there it was Ramadan and so my husband wasn't having the breakfast and he would sleep in late so I would usually get up and go down to breakfast with our son, because I wasn't fasting, and then I would usually take him out because with a two year old you need to get out of the house, get out of the room so I used to take him out in his pushchair and walk around the area quite a lot. When Ramadan finished and my husband started coming back down to the regular breakfast the, either the owner or the manager so of had a word with me and said, "Oh no, your boyfriend is not entitled to have breakfast." And I said what do you mean, he's my husband and we are both booked into this Hotel. He hasn't been eating it because it's been Ramadan and they kind of like checked the books and found that his name was actually on it so they were obviously used to single women having men to stay, like friends to stay and things like that but they weren't allowed to eat.

So all that, I remember all that being quite traumatic. And there was sort of a feeling of, of stigma of being homeless, I mean when I joined Kings . St. Pancras Library I didn't want to, when they asked for my address, I had to show some proof of address which I had, but I didn't want to write on the thing the name of the hotel. I put the number and the street as if it was a normal flat or something, not that anyone was saying anything I just didn't ... I just thought I would be seen as someone who was going to hang around or ... that was, that was a bit horrible.

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ай2004 King's Cross Voices Oral History Project