This open letter was passed on to me a while back by residents of one of the many areas of the north of England currently undergoing regeneration under the government’s Housing Market Renewal programme. It was written by one of their friends and neighbours, who lost their family home in an earlier phase of the scheme.
I have spoken to the letter-writer and asked if I could pay them a visit to record their experience as part of my Street Fighters series. They said no, because the whole experience was so traumatic that they just want to put the whole thing behind them. I tried all the journalistic persuasion tricks in the book but unfortunately they stood firm. It’s a shame because this is one of the worst experiences I have heard of, but of course I can understand the way they feel.
So to at least mark their story in some minor, anonymous way, I’ve typed their original handwritten letter – changing nothing except to anonymise any details that can identify them or where they lived. I don’t think any of that really matters anyway. What they went through was an abuse which shouldn’t have happened.
While many people are no doubt very sorry to leave their homes under this and other regeneration schemes, I hope everyone else gets treated with more respect. When I hear stories like this I have to keep reminding myself that not everyone is a regeneration loser…I really think that on balance they are probably in the minority. I hope that’s the case.