It was late December but not yet Christmas and it was snowing heavily was still living in the home with my baby she was two months old and I was hungry. Although, there were many times that I had no money, I managed somehow. Looking back I shudder to imagine how I must have looked to outsiders. On the day in question I had completely run out of nappies. I had no money, but I was able to get food in the home. I watched as the girls in the home would occasionally get visitors but apart from Eric. No one came to see me. That evening I went to bed heavily burden as baby supplies were running low.
I was unable to sleep that night, thinking what to do. Then it came to me. “Walk”. I knew I could do it, and I plotted the route in my mind. My baby had only two bottles left and my benefit wasn’t due until the following week. The home provide all food but it was a condition that we would be responsible for the child. At 15 years, I found it difficult to budget. I had no idea about money, and because the other children would get occasional visitors they would always have extra cash. As a result I tried to fit in.
I thought for a while and decided to go and find the social worker, the problem was the office was five miles away by transport. I had no money to take transport and I had no clothes to walk in the snow. I needed money, I couldn’t call the social worker to let them know I was coming, I had to make a decision.
I decided I would walk and take my baby with me.
I asked one of the girls to borrow me a cardigan. I recall it was the same thick cardigan mentioned before. It had red and white stripes.. I had a black dress and I borrowed a scarf and a pair of shoes. I recall the only thing that belonged to me was my underwear. I recall looking at myself and feeling emotional. Nevertheless, I wrapped my baby in her thick pink shawl with the white tassels. She had on her all in one. and her cardigan and her hat. She was very warm I recalled. Her little pink face looked so cute. She was born with grey eyes and she just stared at me. I walked down the stairs with her in my arms.
As I got to the bottom of the stairs, one of the girls, who had just received a camera for Christmas, spoke to me.
“Let me take a picture, “. “Where are you going” she said.
“To see the social worker”.
“where’s your coat?
“I am fine”. I said.
I didn’t want to say anything else, but I couldn’t lie when she asked me how was I getting there. “I’m going to walk” was my reply.
I closed the door, and I walked down the road to the high street. I looked around the high street. Then I saw it. The 112 bus stop.
I knew how to get to the social worker, I needed to follow the 112 bus route, followed by the 31 bus route and so I started my journey.
The snow was falling heavily, and as the snowflakes dropped on my eyelids and I wiped them away. I knew no one could see the tears. I knew I appeared to be wiping the snow from my face.
I carried on walking, up the road until I reached the snow colored dual carriage way. I wanted to turn back but I couldn’t. I recall feeling very lonely and ashamed. The shame came from the fact I was alone on the street, during Christmas, and going to beg for money. As the cars drove past. I remember, wandering if any of the drivers felt sorry for me. In any case, not one person blew their horn nor did they stop to assist the lonely child with the baby in her arms. My baby was two months old at the time.
I continued walking for a long time, by the time I reached one mile, that was the junction between the home and the bus station. My feet were cold and I could hardly feel them. My fingers were numb as I held them inside the sleeves of my cardigan.
As I walked I was humming to my baby. I would raise her up to the sky as she chuckled and I would bring her down again. This wasn’t because I was happy, it was because she was becoming heavy. Also I didn’t want the people in their cars to bother me or ask questions. So I tried to pretend I was ok. “Pride”
That day though, I was extremely lonely.
After some time I arrived at the social services office; It was late afternoon. My journey had taken me five hours, when I looked at the clock.
The social worker came to me and said.
“how did you get here”
walked, I said
she looked at me with disbelief.
little did she know I was telling the truth.
In those days, social services in the UK they used to arrange a section 17 payment for significant need. I was given £100pounds to buy nappy and food. I was frozen, my lips were cracked. I recall the social worker trying to keep me warm. She brought me into a room and said. “You can stay in here until you are warm, she then warmed up the last bottle I had and gave my baby.
I did not walk back to the home that evening.
when I reached Nurse Dowling asks me what took so long, as kilburn was not that far by bus.
“It was cold” I said, “the social work told me to stay a while”.
she looked puzzled. Especially as I had set out at 8am that morning. No journey should have taken that long.
“I’m not lying, I said.
what nurse Dowling didn’t know was that I had walked several miles to find food for my baby. I knew that day I would do it all again. After all she was all I had. I also learnt a key factor . How to budget.