Curtis and Jodie

Curtis and Jodie are making living together work for them, but they feel they’re not getting the right support

Jodie: We’ve been together a year and live together at a new place. So far it’s been alright; it gets annoying sometimes when you’re in each other’s hair all the time, but Curtis goes out and goes to college so we have stuff to talk about when he gets home. It’s good to have some space and not see each other all the time. We haven’t argued for about two or three weeks now, so it’s getting better!

Curtis: I’m doing Horticulture, Maths and English exams. I got a Level 2 in English and Level 1 in Maths and I’m really enjoying Horticulture – it makes me feel proud of myself. At home, we both manage the running of the house.

Jodie: Curtis is in charge of it at the moment though, and he always makes sure electric, food and gas have been paid for. He even puts something aside to buy me little gifts – he always puts himself last. My benefits haven’t been sorted since April because I don’t go to my appointments. When I was poorly I just couldn’t be bothered to get out of bed, and I was dizzy and scared to leave the house by myself. Now I know what’s wrong with me I can sort out my jobcentre appointments, but I just struggle keeping them all. I find my probation ones really tough – especially because I have about three appointments a week, and sometimes I turn up at the wrong times and places and get breached. I can feel quite overwhelmed as it feels like there are a lot of responsibilities. It is hard.

Curtis: We’d like to both move out of here and stay in a proper house, and start a family one day. There are lots of issues with this house, but the housing worker isn’t doing anything, even though we said we’d pay to fix some of the problems. We’ve got a broken window, so we get very cold at night time and I’d say we’re quite neglected by our housing worker. The rules for us to move in were that we both got on courses and that the worker would come here twice a week.

Jodie: This was meant to be a month long tester and we’ve now been here four months and haven’t even been told if we’ve passed yet. Twice since living here we’ve run out of electricity the day before his payday, and we’ve asked for a tenner top-up and they’ve told us ‘no’. So I see that as them saying ‘actually go out and get your own money’. There’s a massive lack of support. They told us this would make or break us, and at first it did nearly break us, but we’ve realised we are going to argue at times but we can still get through it.

Curtis: I’d say our lives have definitely improved since we’ve been together. Jodie’s kept me out of lots of trouble – she told me she won’t be there when I get out of prison, so I don’t do anything stupid! She used to be a bit of a bad fighter too, but I don’t let her get into trouble either. We help each other and really mean a lot to each other. We keep each other from committing crime. It’s definitely been a beneficial relationship for us and I think we’ve found a good balance now we’re living together.

Jodie: Social workers say we shouldn’t be living together, because we used to argue a lot, but we’re working at it, and I just don’t think they look at the positives. Yes I may have been breaching but we’re not getting into trouble and committing crime. It does my head in that they don’t see the good in us.

We are thrilled to announce that since this interview, Jodie and Curtis have got engaged. Congratulations from all of us at Unlock and User Voice!

Taken from Issue 19

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