Tuesday, September 19, 2006
Brackley, Northants: Anita Cottle
After Anita Cottle's family moved, they became victimised because of their race.
Mum of three Anita, 40, says: ‘My 20-year-old daughter Jasmine was attacked and they spat in her face as my two other children were forced to watch. She is traumatised — we all are.
‘Since arriving here three years ago, my kids have been verbally abused because they are of Asian origin. We were all born in the UK. I can't believe what we've been subjected to.
‘Although we're now being accepted in the community we never expected anything this bad to happen. Jasmine’s attack has shocked everyone.
‘People are aware of antisocial incidents here but they tend to ignore them. And now that we’re speaking out they're offering support and agreeing something has to be done. I've joined Mums’ Army in order that we can increase unity, awareness and education.’
Anita's daughter Jasmine after her attack
Alloa, Clackmannanshire: Margaret Penman
An ASBO (anti-social behaviour order) has been given to the whole of Margaret Penman’s neighbouring village of Sauchie. She says it is like living in the middle of gang warfare.
Margaret, 32, of Alloa, Clackmannanshire, explains: ‘It’s like a mini-Beirut. Day after day police cars, riot vans, ambulances and fire engines roar past my flat. Junkies live here and threaten my family.
‘The alleyway leading to my son’s school is used every night for fights between the gangs. I have seen kids of eight looking for trouble with bricks, pickaxes, iron bars and baseball bats with six-inch nails sticking out.
‘People are getting seriously hurt. The police and the council promise to make changes but nothing is done. I desperately hope that Mums’ Army can help change things.’
Tel: 07876 381299
Monday, September 18, 2006
Gipton, Leeds: Sarah Edwards
Sarah Edwards is frustrated that her neighbourhood is notoriously bad and yet nothing is done to make it better. Sarah, 31, says: ‘Youths congregate near the local shops and my neighbours and I get hurled with abuse every time we walk past them.
‘I’ve been in this area for less than a year and it's sheer hell. I have two children aged five and three, and I daren’t let them play in the garden. These thugs run riot as everybody seems resigned to the fact that they can’t stop them. It’s ridiculous. By letting things ride, it’s just going to get worse.
‘I want to live in a community where people are not afraid of retaliation. My husband and I are both on sleeping tablets. It will be difficult, but I’m joining Mums’ Army because I won’t let the yobs win.’
Tel: 07888 734392
Middlesbrough, North Yorks: Marilyn Louca
Yobs have targeted a husband and son who are both disabled and it is tearing Marilyn Louca’s family apart.
Marilyn, 47, says: ‘My husband and son are always being verbally abused. It’s a living nightmare.
‘My six-year-old child can’t play out and my older children don’t want to be in their own home — they’re literally being driven away from me. If there was anywhere else I could go, I would. I’ve joined Mums’ Army so I can offer support to others who are going through the same thing. The Government must be pressured to do something to help us.’
Middlesbrough, North Yorks
Tel: 07981 365197
Motherwell, North Lanarkshire: Mary Vaughan
When her parents died, Mary Vaughan took over the care of her 35-year-old brother Tony who has Down’s syndrome. It wasn’t long before yobs saw a target.
Mary, 43, says: ‘Whenever Tony went out, a group of teenage boys would call him names and slap him. Once they threw buckets of water at him and another time they beat him with roofing felt.
‘Tony had always been brought up to be independent and the yobs took that away from him. I want to make sure my brother enjoys every minute of his life.
‘I called the police but the boys denied everything. When I went to speak to the father of the ringleader, he punched me in the head. I have epilepsy and could take no more.
‘I contacted the council’s antisocial task force. They mediated between our families and arranged a meeting. The family were told that if their behaviour didn’t stop they would be evicted from their home. That’s when everything changed. Since then Tony has been treated with respect and kindness, and he has his independence back. I'm glad to say he's happy again.'
Now Mary wants to help others. She says: ‘I have joined Mums’ Army because I want to stop this happening to other families. People can make a change to their lives - just like we have. You should not suffer in silence.’
Motherwell, North Lanarkshire
Tel: 07988 715503
Mary's brother Tony
Northampton: Kay Godier
After reading a letter in Take a Break from the teenage sister of a boy with cerebral palsy who was being bullied by yobs, Kay Godier called us straightaway to offer support. It was a stark reminder of her own experience.
Kay, 48, says: ‘My five-year-old son Harry has special needs and we were victimised by a family who’d already made arson attacks on a neighbour with a child who had cerebral palsy.
‘The fire brigade gave us fire extinguishers to put by the front door every night. We were verbally abused and dirty knickers were hung outside our home. Then my car was vandalised, leaving me with no way to get Harry to hospital appointments.
‘After a year I went to the police and discovered that there was a new law to protect the disabled and the elderly. The council was legally forced to take action and evict the family who was causing us misery.
‘Over the years I have seen society go down the drain. The culture that I grew up in has gone. I have six children and two granddaughters, and I will do anything to protect them.
‘You can make a difference if you fight back. Don’t ever give up. We all have a right to a normal life free from all this lawlessness.’
Sittingbourne, Kent: Joanne Witherden
Joanne Witherden is 17 and keen to fight for Mums’ Army. She says: ‘My boyfriend was attacked without reason by a drunken yob looking for trouble. He has been targeted many times.
We’re scared of groups of youths and we have to avoid walking past them. We go in the car to the local shop which is only 100 yards away.
‘Yobs have taken control of peoples lives and it’s not fair that many of us are worried and intimidated. They are bullies and they get off lightly for doing horrible things.
‘I have joined Mums’ Army because I want something done.’
Tel: 07783 608961
Southway, Plymouth: Kat Osbourne
Kat Osbourne was devastated when her cat Lulu died after being attacked by local yobs. Kat, 35, says: ‘They kicked Lulu breaking her ribs and tearing the ligament in her back leg and they also covered her in glue. She needed an operation, but at 13 she was too frail and died at the vets. Lulu never had a day’s illness yet the last few weeks of her life were spent in pain inside a cage.
‘Other people in my neighbourhood have had their cats shot by yobs with pellet guns. The kids round here can do what they want and no-one seems to care. It’s sad that they aren’t brought up to protect those weaker than themselves, including animals.
‘My kids are too scared to go out and play so they are inside the house all the time. I read about Mums’ Army every week and I want things to change. We need the government to act and I’ll do whatever I can to change our society.’
Lulu died after being attacked by yobs
Barrow upon Humber, North Lincolnshire: Tracy Swann
After Tracy Swann’s husband was beaten up by a gang of yobs outside their home she had to take action. Tracy, 35, a mother of seven, says: ‘A gang of teenagers were trying to climb over our garden gate so my husband went out to stop them and they all pounded into him with their fists and feet.
‘The same gang then smashed our car window and later threw a paving stone into the back of our courtesy car, which cost us £300.
‘I feel angry. The police aren’t doing anything. These yobs are picking on everyone.
‘My children don’t go out at night because we know it’s not safe. I want to the police to take more notice so we can all live in a safer neighbourhood.’
Barrow upon Humber, North Lincolnshire
Pontywaun, Caerphilly: Liz Weetch
Two teenage thugs were locked up for 30 minutes after almost killing Liz Weetch’s 17-year-old son Jamie by stabbing him in the neck with a kitchen knife and smashing him in the head with a dumbbell.
Luke Roberts, 16, and his brother Matthew, 18, admitted assault occasioning actual bodily harm. The knife just missed Jamie’s jugular vein.
Judge David Wynne Morgan remanded them in custody for half an hour each and warned: ‘If you carry on as you did that’s where you’ll end up,’ Then he sentenced Luke to an 18-month supervision order and Matthew to an 150-hours community service.
Liz says: ‘After the verdict was the boys turned around, laughed and gave us the thumbs up. I was so shocked and couldn’t stop crying.’
‘These boys have bullied Jamie for years. What they did to him was beyond belief - I thought he was going to die.
‘Is it going to be my child or someone else’s who gets killed before someone is properly punished? My daughter and other innocent people have also been threatened and attacked by them and their gang -‘The George Street Mafia’ - who intimidate our entire community.
‘I feel cheated by the courts. I don’t think the sentences will have any effect on them at all.
‘It’s an absolute nightmare and we have to do something now before things get worse. I hope that Mums’ Army can give people a voice and bring us together against the yobs so we can protect our families.’
Tel: 07813 674064
Liz's son Jamie after the attack
Redditch, Worcestershire: Kate Brookes
Mums’ Army campaigners are fighting to better their neighbourhoods across the UK and Ireland, but there are people who are unable to fight back — they need our help.
Kate Brookes, of Redditch, Worcestershire, wrote: ‘My husband Paul and I are both retired and disabled. Paul is blind and teenage yobs have mugged and attacked him with flour bombs near our home.
‘A few weeks ago yobs shoved us around in our local shopping centre and purposely stood on our guide dog Carlo’s paws and laughed.
‘I worked as a nanny for 20 years and used to love working with children and young people, but I wouldn’t want to do it now. There would be no yob culture if children were disciplined from an early age.
On our very first trip out with Carlo, kids threw lit fireworks at him. They went off around his legs and under his tummy, and ever since then, he has been terrified of loud noises. We have to sedate him on bonfire night.
‘We have also had our garden destroyed. It cost £2000 to repair — a lot of money if you are on disability benefits. We have had to go to the expense of installing CCTV, a community lifeline system and a house alarm.
‘I always feel nervous when a group of kids approaches us and Paul has to take a taxi whenever he goes out without me now because we know that it’s not safe for him to go alone. His independence has been taken away.
‘I applaud Mums’ Army and wish we were able to join the fight — please keep up the good work. Children must be taught right from wrong. Let’s bring back discipline and respect.’
Kate and Paul with guidedog Carlo
Basingstoke, Hampshire: Annette Ramshaw
When Annette Ramshaw was verbally attacked by yobs when she was walking to the shops with her friend’s two-year-old daughter, she realised how bad things had got in her neighbourhood.
Annette, 24, says: ‘I work in my local shop and every night we get abuse from the teenagers. They come in gangs and steal — if we try to stop them we get abuse or things thrown at us. They hang around outside the shop until we close and then smash the windows and break the shutters. We call the police but half the time they don’t turn up.
‘I have a five-year-old child and it’s not right that I can’t even take him to the shop. Things have to change.’
Halifax, West Yorkshire: Lynne Oates
Lynne Oates felt compelled to take action when she read about Take a Break’s Mums’ Army. On that very day, her elderly neighbours had called out the police, as they were being intimidated by local youths and were afraid of them.
Lynne, 41, says: ‘I am totally fed up with the general poor behaviour and lack of respect exhibited by the younger generation. In my area, the problem is really only just beginning — noise, litter, graffiti, vandalism — and I am determined for it to stop and to end there.
‘I work in a school with teenagers and am not afraid to stand up to them, but I know that older people and young mums sometimes are. If my 16-year-old daughter was causing problems I would do something about it. She has been brought up to respect her home, community and society as a whole.
‘We need to make young people realise the consequences their actions will have on their future so that we can feel in control of our neighbourhoods.’
Halifax, West Yorkshire
Wallasey, Merseyside: Ruth Parry
Working for social services, Ruth Parry is well aware of the antisocial behaviour taking over her community. She says: ‘Teenage thugs run amok. It’s about time someone gave this issue some serious consideration. The biggest problem is alcohol. Parks and communal areas are filled with underage kids drinking and the police don’t seem to do anything about it. It’s such a shame that they are getting involved in all sorts at such an early age.
‘Our towns are being ruined and it’s going to be really hard to come back from this if something isn’t done now. I have joined Mums’ Army because I think it’s about time the Government listened to the people who pay their wages.’
Plymouth, Devon: Lizzie Lonsdale
As a young single mother, Lizzie Lonsdale has considered leaving the country to provide a better life for her daughter. Lizzie, 22, says: ‘It terrifies me when I read the stories in Take a Break. I used to live in Gibraltar where children could run around outside safely, and I feel guilty bringing my daughter up in an environment like this. It’s hard enough for parents without having to worry constantly.
‘My daughter is only three and I have already witnessed her being bullied by a four-year-old boy who then turned on me. It’s intimidating and unsafe for both of us and it’s not right.
‘I have joined Mums’ Army because I would like to feel safe in the knowledge that my daughter will be growing up in a better world.’
Llysfaen, Conwy: Katy Higgins
Yobs have continued to ignore Katy Higgins’s pleas to stay away from her garden and when they pelted a football in the face of her two-year-old son, she knew she had to do something. Katy, 26, says: ‘I asked them to take the ball to the park, but they ignored me, hurt my son and then hurled verbal abuse at me.
‘I have lived in this neighbourhood for 12 years and the problems have continued to get worse. I have been forced to keep my son inside the house and I won’t go out at night because I know it’s not safe.
‘We need more police patrols and parents must take more responsibility. Young children should not be allowed out on the streets at night. I’m a first-time mum and obviously I don’t know everything, but I understand the importance of keeping my child safe and teaching him respect.’
Todmorden, West Yorkshire: Lisa McDermott
As a volunteer at a charity community center, Lisa McDermott knows how to keep youths off the streets. Lisa, 26, says: ‘By providing a place for young people to meet, our neighbourhood is slowly getting better, but there are still a lot of problems with alcohol and drug abuse. I am joining Mums’ Army because we need more support from the community and the authorities.’
Todmorden, West Yorkshire
Gravesend, Kent: Julie Sherwood
For over a year Julie Sherwood was victimised by yobs and she dreaded the walk home from work or to the local shops. Julie, 34, says: ‘I have moved to a new area now, but I am still wary of youths who seem to know that no one can touch them. The local teenagers in my area could sense that I was scared and vulnerable because I lived alone. They vandalised my property, verbally abused me daily and when I asked them to stop, they got worse.
‘I was not a priority for the police and I realised that I had to do something myself. I persuaded my neighbours to sign a petition and I set up meetings with local MP’s and leisure centres to arrange free tennis coaching for teenagers — this gave them something to do and the situation did improve.
‘Mums’ Army makes you realise you’re not the only one suffering. We must take control and stop being the victims.’
Hatfield, Hertfordshire: Sharon Heath
When Sharon Heath’s brother and elderly father were attacked in their Bedfordshire garden with rocks, bricks and blocks of wood by a gang of 30 yobs, she was appalled that no one came to their aid. Sharon, 40, says: ‘For almost an hour they were attacked and taunted while their neighbours watched from inside their homes. When the police finally arrived, they managed to catch two of the boys — including the leader who was only 12. These boys are probably already back on the streets, my parents are living in fear of them returning and I am sick with worry.
‘I visit my parents as often as I can and God knows what could have happened if my children, nephews or nieces had been playing in the garden that day.
‘When I read about Take a Break’s Mums’ Army I thought that’s exactly what I need. We need to raise awareness about antisocial behaviour or it will simply continue to get worse.’
Dukinfield, Greater Manchester: Roy West
After Roy West bravely launched a single-handed campaign to better his neighbourhood he was targeted by local yobs and attacked seven times. Roy, 41, says: ‘At first I just wanted to get better lighting on my street, but I ended up fighting antisocial behaviour.
‘My windows were smashed 14 times and a brick even hit my partner who was inside our house. When my stepdaughter was walking to the shops, she was cornered by the yobs. They were high on drugs and hit her in the face with a brick. Although we have seen 10 yobs convicted, we have little faith in the law because the punishments are so lenient. After my stepdaughter’s attack, I pressured the local council to make changes and eventually the neighbourhood has become safer.
‘It’s really sad that it took so much violence to make this happen and having recently moved to a new area, it feels like we’re on holiday. People all over the country are suffering in silence because the police are so slow to react. Victims must be put before the criminals.
‘Joining Mums’ Army means I’m not on my own. Together we must fight to ensure that values are restored so fear is no longer a way of life for so many.’
Dukinfield, Greater Manchester
Tel: 07950 828191
Roy was targeted by local yobs
Derbyshire: Anonymous teenage girl
While people across the country are finding the strength to join Mums’ Army, we are still receiving letters from those who are too scared to step forward. A teenage girl in Derbyshire wrote to Take a Break for help:
My mum has seven children. My eldest brother is 15 and has cerebral palsy. He is picked on constantly and can’t even play in our front garden. They have kicked, punched and dragged him around on the ground and they also get younger children to hit him. My mum has been trying to move for over seven years now, but no one is helping her. About two weeks ago my brother was threatened by a youth with a hammer and the police did nothing. It’s beyond belief, as far as I can see. Does he have to be murdered before something is done? I hope Mums’ Army can help to stop these yobs.
Wigan, Greater Manchester: Anthony Hayton
Reading his wife’s Take a Break, Anthony Hayton decided to join Mums’ Army after he saw our story about Pearl Shields — victimised and attacked by yobs because she had breast cancer. Anthony, 31, says: ‘I was so shocked by what I read. It is downright disgusting. I don’t want to wait for this to happen to us and others. As a father I want to help make a difference and to pressurise the government into serious action against yob culture.’
Wigan, Greater Manchester
Walsall, West Midlands: Lisa Firkin
After Lisa Firkin’s 62-year-old father was stabbed and beaten 100 yards from his home, her family reached breaking point. Lisa, 40, a mother of four, has joined Mums’ Army to bring long-running antisocial abuse to light. She says: ‘For the past two years my family has been victimised. Our homes and cars are vandalised, we’re tormented and threatened every day. Not one of us has a normal life. We call each other first thing in the morning and last thing at night to check everyone is safe. We feel like the police aren’t helping us. In fact no one is helping us and all we want is to be left alone, to be safe and not have to look over our shoulders.’
Walsall, West Midlands
Tel: 07717 015893
Gainsborough, Lincolnshire: Jean Lawson
With her grown up children having left home, Jean Lawson lives on her own and is vulnerable to antisocial behaviour. Jean, 62, says: ‘The yobs on my street strut around and intimidate me with verbal abuse, loud music and spitting. If we don’t stand together they will grind us down. I can’t do it on my own and just hope that people in my community will come to local meetings and help to better our neighbourhood. We must stand up and be counted to get rid of antisocial behaviour before it takes over completely.’
Tel: 07929 782168
Bournemouth, Dorset: Anne Grineau
After her 86-year-old mother was robbed in her own home, Anne Grineau complained to the council about the antisocial behaviour on their road. Anne, 59, who has four children and three grandchildren, says: ‘A gang of youths congregated outside her house at all hours of the day and night. It was terrifying my mother. When I complained, they targeted me. I was threatened, spat at, followed and harassed.
‘At times there have been up to 20 yobs outside my house and they intimidate me in front of my young grandchildren. My teenage daughter is scared to even go into our garden. I have had enough and am totally at my wits’ end. My family and I deserve a life. The council take no action.’
Broadstairs, Kent: Evie Freeman
When she was a teenager, Evie Freeman and her family moved to a troubled neighbourhood and were targeted by yobs. Evie, 23, says: ‘My younger sister and I were scared to go out. It started with verbal abuse, then physical threats, and eventually they threw a brick through our lounge window. The police said there was nothing they could do and we were forced to move house.
‘I still live in the same area and I have now got a young baby. The police should do more to protect people. Why should we live in fear of being targeted by youths who think they’re untouchable? We need harsher punishments. My partner has helped me to rebuild my confidence. I hope Mums’ Army will make a difference.’
Tel: 07742 504060
Eastbourne, East Sussex: Ann Tutt
Having worked with children for 20 years, Ann Tutt has seen things go from bad to worse and is passionate about tackling the epidemic of yob culture. Ann, 49, a mother of three, says: ‘I work with young offenders who are often rewarded for their antisocial behaviour with special treatment. I can understand why children from bad backgrounds may offend, but there is no excuse for re-offending.
‘Punishments are too lenient and children need to be made to realise the consequences of their actions. Parents must teach them right from wrong and there needs to be more discipline in the home and at school. The vicious circle has to be broken. How can kids expect to be able to bring up their own young if they have no positive role models to follow? We need to reintroduce old fashioned values into society so children learn respect. I hope that Mums’ Army can help to bring about the eventual end of antisocial behaviour everywhere.’
Eastbourne, East Sussex
Tel: 07745 856207
Burton upon Trent, Staffs: Kim Smith
When a local teenager died of a heroin overdose, Kim Smith united with other parents in her neighbourhood to try and stop drug abuse and antisocial behaviour taking over their community. Kim, 42, a mother of three, says: ‘We felt things were getting out of hand and as no-one seemed to be doing anything it was up to us to save our children.’
Kim and other parents in Burton upon Trent, Staffs, spoke with young people to find out what would help to get them off street corners. They launched a campaign, raised funds and got the local council to provide two empty shops which they turned into a cafe offering help and advice. Kim says: ‘It really worked. We interacted with some of the worst kids, gave them our respect and they gave their respect back.’
But now funds have run out, the cafe has been forced to close, and the kids are back on the streets. ‘It’s such a waste,’ says Kim. ‘The cafe decreased antisocial behaviour and vandalism, and bridged the gap between the old, the young, and the police. It makes me so mad that we proved how to make a difference but we weren’t given enough support to keep it going. I’m joining Mums’ Army because I want the authorities to actually do their job. We have a solution. But we don’t have the support we need.’
Burton upon Trent, Staffs
Newhaven, East Sussex: Marion MacQueen
After arsonists burnt out a nursery playground used by local children, the manager Marion MacQueen has decided to join Mums’ Army. Marion, 43, says: ‘I just can’t believe that someone would do this. Over the past few years this nursery has been dramatically improved and the play area was refurbished only 12 months ago. Children from all walks of life, often with behavioural and emotional problems greatly benefited from all the play equipment.
‘But now it has been completely destroyed. We are a charity and it’s heart breaking explaining to the children, especially those with special needs, that their favourite toy has gone because some nasty people have caused a fire.
‘I have read Take a Break for years and hope that I can receive help and support to give our children back their playground and to make sure that something like this never happens again.’
Newhaven, East Sussex
Tel: 01273 516099
Doncaster, South Yorkshire: Belinda Ross
Yobs from neighbouring communities have increased the antisocial behaviour surrounding Belinda Ross and her family and she is determined to tackle it. Belinda, 39, a mother of two teenagers, says: ‘The situation is spinning out of control. Justice is not done and we need more police on our streets. At one time we were able to leave our doors open when we went to the shops — now we won’t even walk to the shops alone. We need to help the kids get off the streets.’
Doncaster, South Yorkshire
Tel: 07884 100767
Gillingham, Dorset: Anne Lane
As a counsellor for under 18s who have problems with drugs and alcohol, Anne Lane hopes that Mums’ Army can widen her reach. Anne, 39, says: ‘Drug and alcohol abuse among teenagers is something that desperately needs to be addressed. I have a 14-year-old daughter who has nowhere to go and nothing to do. Young people need more opportunities to enable them to do something more constructive than hanging around on street corners and I am going to do whatever I can to help prevent antisocial behaviour before it starts.’
Elgin, Moray: Faith Waldron
Concerned for the safety of her three children and also for her own mother, Faith Waldron knows her community must change. Faith, 33, says: ‘Groups of yobs congregate near my mother’s house and she is powerless against their intimidation. My children used to play out at the local park, but after they were threatened they were scared away. I just don’t know what’s going on. There is no respect and no discipline. It makes me incredibly angry — where are the police? Our society is falling apart, the problem is colossal and I hope Mums’ Army can start to make changes.’
Consett, Co Durham: Elaine Buckmaster
After divorcing from her husband, Elaine Buckmaster took her four children to a new home in search of a fresh start. Elaine, 51, says: ‘I was desperate to provide a new life for my children, but I had no idea what we were walking into. Yobs terrorised us because we were outsiders and they made our lives hell. For three years my children and I have been verbally and physically attacked, our home is vandalised and we can’t go out of our front door without being abused. I have complained to the council and the police almost every day, but we are still afraid. With four children to protect, I have no choice but to fight back and if I can help others to speak out then together we might make a difference.’
Consett, Co Durham
Tel: 07906 561882
Woolwich, London: David Hall
When a car was burnt-out in the supermarket car park only yards from his new home, David Hall saw the warning signs. David, 28, says: ‘I complained to the police and the council but the car stayed there for over a year. To say there are problems here is an understatement, yet nothing is done by the authorities. I refuse to go out at night because I don’t feel safe at all. Antisocial behaviour and drug abuse is rife. It’s just unbelievable. I’m scared of what could happen and I have waited long enough for something to be done. It’s down to members of Mums’ Army to take action to better our communities.’
Edinburgh: Christine Dumonceau
Fighting against drug abuse, Christine Dumonceau was driven out of her home after she dared to speak out. Christine, 41, says: ‘My elderly neighbour was traumatised after police in full-riot gear mistakenly raided her home and then failed to apologise or pay for the damages. When I made an anti-drugs stand in the community, my life was made a misery. I was victimised and suffered from verbal abuse, vandalism, and burglary. Now living in a new area I am determined to create a better life for my community. People are scared and forced to live in fear. I want to see them proud of where they live. We need to deal with the root of the problems to instil a sense of community spirit — we should not have to live like this.’
Tel: 07707 604854
Nuneaton, Warwickshire: Gayle Fessey
Gayle Fessey’s husband Alan was killed when he tried to protect his family from violent thugs. Now a youth who was sentenced for his involvement is being released. In response Gayle is joining Mums’ Army. Gayle, 33, who is left raising three children, says: ‘It has been so hard since Alan’s death. All he ever wanted to do was help and I still can’t believe what happened. I have a beautiful baby boy who never got to meet his daddy and I want to make sure that our community is a safe place for him and my other two children to grow up in. We must take action — together we are a stronger force with a louder voice.’
Gayle's story was featured in Take a Break
Slough, Berkshire: Kim Thurston
Aware that antisocial behaviour has got worse in her neighbourhood since her three children have grown up and left home, Kim Thurston wishes to take a stand to help her community. Kim, 47, says: ‘I want to stamp out all the nuisance crimes and the violence before it escalates even more. The elderly no longer feel safe going out, it’s so sad. The vulnerable people need protecting and I’ll do whatever I can to do that.’
Stretford, Gtr Manchester: Brenda Briggs
Compelled to do all she can for her five grandchildren, Brenda Briggs has joined Mums’ Army to create more opportunities for young people. Brenda, 60, says: ‘I will do anything I can for my grandchildren. We all need to take responsibility for our neighbourhoods. I’m thinking of the future and I don’t want my grandchildren to be surrounded by antisocial behaviour or to be the cause of it. It’s up to us to educate and protect our families.’
Stretford, Gtr Manchester
Doncaster, South Yorkshire: Sarah Sables
When yobs threw a brick at the window of her children’s playroom, Sarah Sables knew that she had to face up to those who have been victimising her family for over a year. Sarah, 26, a single mother of three, says: ‘At first I thought they would get bored, but they have targeted us ever since we moved here and I have to make it stop. We are being intimidated in our own home — I have even been threatened with a machete — and I am terrified for my children. The police don’t seem interested and neither is the council. Not enough is being done. All I want is a bit of help and support.’
Doncaster, South Yorkshire
Tel: 07783 293088
Telford, Shropshire: Nikki Flanders
Antisocial behaviour is giving Nikki Flanders sleepless nights, and for the safety of her five-year-old daughter she is being forced to move away. Nikki, 27, says: ‘Police are called into our neighbourhood every week but they take no action. My daughter is growing up thinking that this kind of violence is normal. Why does the law fail to protect the people who work hard to make a good life for their family? It’s wrong and things have to change.’
Blackpool, Lancashire: Irene Baigrie
After over 10 years of victimisation, Irene Baigrie continues to fight against antisocial behaviour every single day. Irene, a middle-aged mother who lives alone, says: ‘Our neighbourhood is vandalised and riddled with drug abuse. Like many others I am harassed, intimidated and abused by children and adults. My life has been taken from me. God knows how many vulnerable people suffer like me. I just want to put a stop to it and if I can stop this happening to anyone else I’ll know I’ve not suffered in vain.’
Teignbridge, Devon: Sue Bird
Almost two years ago, Sue Bird’s adult son was attacked by yobs with a claw hammer. When the gang’s 20-year-old leader was jailed, it was revealed that he had 40 previous convictions. Sue, 50, who has four children, says: ‘Punishments need to be far tougher. I was completely horrified that one human being could do that to another. My son nearly died — if the boy who attacked him had been imprisoned sooner for all his previous crimes, this wouldn’t have happened. There needs to be more respect in our communities and I want to take positive steps to make sure this kind of violence is stamped out.’
Rotherham, South Yorkshire: Hayley Chambers
When a group of 10 drunken teenagers attacked young mum Hayley Chambers, she reckons she was lucky to escape with her life. Hayley, 21, says: ‘Before this happened I was an outgoing person. Now I daren’t go out anywhere on my own. I’m terrified for myself and even more for my children. I’m not the first person this has happened to and I won’t be the last if something isn’t done. There are no CCTV cameras in my neighbourhood and underage kids can get hold of alcohol far too easily. I’ve joined Mums’ Army because things have to change — my children should be able to play outside in safety.’
Rotherham, South Yorkshire
Tel: 07933 125563
Harlow, Essex: Kirsten Langham
As a new mum, Kirsten Langham feels responsible for improving her community and trying to restore respect. Kirsten, 21, says: ‘Big groups of teenagers hang out around our local shops and it’s very intimidating to just go and buy a pint of milk. They have nowhere else to go and that needs to change. It’s a horrible feeling to be unsafe only yards from your home. Nobody should have to live like that. I know that one person alone can’t change things but I hope that by stepping forward I will receive support and we can make a difference.
Tel: 07980 042882
Norwich, Norfolk: Ann Harford
Retiring after 15 years in the police force, Ann Harford remains committed to her community. A grandmother with six children, Ann, 60, says: ‘People complain but they don’t do anything to change things. It is people who make communities, not buildings or streets and I think women have the power to turn this around. We’re all accountable for the future of our communities and everyone needs to put in as well as take out. Women and mothers educate children, we know that parenting is the hardest thing in the world but it’s up to us to teach our children and grandchildren about social structure, good manners and respect.’
Tel: 07979 886201
Dudley, West Midlands: Sheila Slater
Sheila Slater sought sanctuary from domestic violence only to find her family being offered housing on an estate where, she says, people are afraid to leave their homes. Sheila, 42, says: ‘I was hoping for a fresh start but I refuse to put my children in an environment like that. We have lived in fear for long enough and I just want somewhere safe. I am having to pay for an hotel room. I am at my wits’ end and that is why I am joining Mums’ Army.’
Dudley, West Midlands
Tel: 07845 084733
Enfield, Greater London: Donna Wheeler
When a man was beaten to death by a gang of thugs outside her local Chinese takeaway, Donna Wheeler knew she had to do something. Donna, 32, is pregnant with her seventh child and says: ‘An innocent man was taken away from his family for absolutely no reason. In the middle of the day I can feel unsafe walking home from the supermarket. I am constantly watching my back and I am terrified for my children. I have joined Mums’ Army because I want to bring back community spirit so that my children will be able to grow up in safety.’
Enfield, Greater London
Tel: 07877 174246
Ronkswood, Worcester: Suzanne Collins
Yobs have attacked Suzanne Collins’ 16-year-old son for the second time and now she desperately wants to stop antisocial behaviour before it gets worse. Suzanne, 46, says: ‘I am completely fed up. There is a lack of action by police and a lack of facilities provided by the council. When the kids get bored they look for something else to do, legal or not. I have seen yobs smash our local church windows and brazenly deal drugs in daylight just yards from my home. I am terrified to think what things will be like when my six-year-old grandson is a teenager. We have to act now.’
Tel: 07743 455360
Lancaster, Lancashire: Vicky Wakefield
When a teenage yob shot a man in front of his young children at her local corner shop, Vicky Wakefield knew she had to do something. Vicky, 25, has three children and says: ‘It’s not fair that we have to bring our children up in an environment like this when have done nothing to provoke it. As they grow older it’s becoming harder to protect them and I am terrified to let them play out in case something happens. We are frightened of going to our local shop and families have been forced to move away because of antisocial behaviour. But I will not give in. That’s why I am supporting Mums’ Army.’
Tel: 07903 750317
Sutton Coldfield, West Midlands: Sarah Bellhouse
Scared about the future for her seven-year-old autistic son, Sarah Bellhouse has joined Mums’ Army to fight for a safer and more respectful community. Sarah, 26, who has three children, says: ‘The stories of victimisation I read in Take a Break make my blood boil. I am determined to make sure that my son is not targeted by yobs just because he’s different. I believe it’s boredom that turns children into yobs and I want to help provide more facilities for young people in our area. I hope that by joining Mums’ Army I can change things and make a difference.’
Sutton Coldfield, West Midlands,
Walsall, West Midlands: Rekha Davi
Following the birth of her third child, Rekha Davi wants to put a stop to escalating yob culture. Rekha, 28, says: ‘I refuse to raise my children in a society where yob culture is seen as normal. It’s very distressing to see antisocial behaviour wherever we go and it’s not just youths — adults can be just as disrespectful. I feel helpless in my own home and powerless to provide a safe environment for my children. We must take a stand now. I have joined Mums’ Army to help to improve people’s rights to a better life. If I can find the strength to take a stand then I can help others to do the same.’
Walsall, West Midlands,
Sedgley, Dudley: Tracy McClymont
Tracy McClymont and her husband are victimised by local thugs — young and old — because they are disabled. Tracy, 32, says: ‘We are verbally abused on our doorstep. Antisocial behaviour has to be stopped so that we can live in peace without being humiliated in our own homes and neighbourhoods. I really hope Mums’ Army can make a difference to people’s lives everywhere.’
Tel: 07080 811805
Castlebaldwin, Co Sligo: Noreen Clarke
Welcome to our first Ireland campaigner. Noreen Clarke is a grandmother who has watched society deteriorate around her family. Noreen, 57, says: ‘We all need to take responsibility. I can see that people are scared to get involved, but it’s time we took a stand and put something back into society. Authorities are not taking action. As mothers and grandmothers we can be heard and we can make a difference if we really want to.’
Castlebaldwin, Co Sligo
Tel: 00 353 8713 64900
Westhougton, Bolton: Lorraine Whitley
As a single mother to two teenage boys, Lorraine Whitley has joined Mums’ Army to put pressure on the council to provide more amenities and direction for young people in her area. She says: ‘We have a lot of problems on our estate and it’s a real struggle as a single mum. There needs to be more to engage teenagers not just in my neighbourhood, but nationwide.’
Tel: 07739 078092
Eltham, Greater London: Haley Faulkner
When Haley Faulkner moved into a new neighbourhood with her five daughters they became prime targets for local yobs. Haley, 39, says: ‘Every time I went out, yobs bullied my daughters to let them in the door so they could wreck the house. They physically and verbally attacked us and made our lives a misery until I stood up to them and made them stop. When I read about Take a Break’s Mums’ Army, I was so happy to see that other people are standing up to yob culture. It’s everywhere and there is no reason for it. My daughters don’t act like that and this kind of behaviour must be stopped.’
Eltham, Greater London
Tel: 07932 611055
Bradford, West Yorkshire: Shaheen Sadiq
Shaheen Sadiq is terrified her neighbourhood will affect her five children who are targetted by yobs because they are mixed race. Separated from her husband and pregnant, Shaheen, 33, is vulnerable but refusing to be victimised. She says: ‘Our estate is not a safe place and we get a lot of trouble because of my children’s ethnicity. A few years ago one of my children was a victim of a hit and run. I was promised that safety precautions would be taken by the council but they have done nothing. I’m afraid to let my children outside our garden gate. I don’t want them growing up in a place like this and have joined Mums’ Army to better their lives.’
Bradford, West Yorkshire
Tel: 07859 300291
Tonbridge, Kent: Kerstin Ewens
When Kerstin Ewens’ 13-year-old son witnessed yobs inhaling lighter fluid — near their home and the local police station — she knew she had to do something. She says: ‘I don’t want my children being subjected to this kind of behaviour. I am tired of being targeted by racist yobs who make our lives a misery because I am German. My two children were born in this country and they have a right to grow up in a safe environment. I have joined Mums’ Army and won’t give in until respect and safety is established in our neighbourhoods.’
Tel: 07785 942833