Let me take you back a few years, 4 to be precise.
The Yard, the community that we are part of and where Tom's family have a small plot, has had a difficult neighbour for years. 4 years ago he started fresh legal proceedings that would do more to threaten and undermine the community than ever before.
It started with unannounced police visits, where they insisted on going into everyone's trailers for inspections. These kinds of 'visits' are humiliating and dehumanising. More police visits, more threats from lawyers, more legal notices. It soon became clear that the entire community faced demolition. Homes and artwork spanning over 20 years could be destroyed, with many families facing homelessness. All because one person had an obsessive desire to rid himself of the people he disliked. Because he had deep enough pockets to do so, and a lawyer willing to search for and manipulate loopholes.
It took thousands in legal fees to fight. Each twist and turn in the saga unveiled fresh problems, fresh court cases, fresh notices. And Aran learnt the hard way how deep rooted hate can be. It upset him greatly to know that there was one person who hated his life and his family enough to do this.
We fundraised, we pulled together as a community, to show a face of solidarity. Inside we felt the pressure, the continual exhaustion of trying to live day by day with so much uncertainty over your head. Of facing friends and family and trying to explain what was happening, as this is something that simply doesn't happen in their world.
Part way during this fight, you'll remember that Aran fell critically ill. It took him a long time to recover from renal failure, but he did. During that time we had to keep up that brave face, keep on trying to work from day to day to somehow maintain the status quo. Watching your child fall critically ill is heartbreaking. Watching your child fall critically ill whilst also facing an eviction order has the potential to destroy you.
Last summer the new contract for the Yard was signed, the community had won. It made legal history.
Last summer, Aran was signed off by the consultant and referred to our GP for his annual kidney checks.
In the last year we've started to rebuild our lives, and move on.
In the last year we've dealt with depression. We've struggled. We're struggling to keep on going, but we're working on it and we've come a long way. Having something to work towards is making all the difference. You don't just forget about periods of life like this; even if they're not present in your mind they haunt you unknowingly for a long, long time.
In the last year Aran has slowly started to feel settled again. His world was forcibly turned upside down, and although he now wears a smile most days, it affected him deeply. We've pulled in closer as a family, barely spending any time apart. Aran still isn't happy sleeping over with a friend, or being away from a parent for long.
We're getting there, though. Or we were, until the referendum.
You see, what a Leave vote means for us is that we've been plunged back into uncertainty again. Having finally got the rug straight under our feet, you've pulled it straight out again. Everything that we've worked towards, that stability that we've craved and needed and deserved, is now under threat. Again.
And no, it isn't simply a matter of if you're there already, everything should be OK? The Leave campaign failed to plan for provisions for EU nationals in the UK, or UK citizens elsewhere in Europe. It also fails to completely understand that the freedom of movement is a precious thing, and that many people are moving, working freely as they are allowed to do, without legal residency. It means there are thousands more people affected than the government would have you believe.
We are those people, the uncounted.
Residency laws are not straight forward. It's not a matter of simply applying for legal residency, as that is based on the laws of the settled community and often fails to recognise people who don't fit that criteria. We have no protection currently beyond the rights the EU has granted us in freedom of movement. I appreciate concern from friends who have asked how we are coping post referendum and what we'll do next, but it's difficult to keep explaining this.
Yes, people have always moved. People will still be able to travel post brexit. But in the days before the freedom of movement, visas and travel costs were far more expensive. They were bureaucratic. They were prohibitive to those without some level of privilege. I am pro immigration. I believe everyone, regardless of their background or financial situation, should be able to explore and experience other cultures. Removing the freedom of movement will cause stagnation, particularly to those people, like us, who feel that they don't really belong in the place they were born in but lack the money or opportunity to do anything about it.
Given a choice, we'll choose our EU citizenship. We've no idea if we can get it or how much it'll cost. We've been pushed into a corner over something we didn't vote for, and at least for me right now it feels as if the UK has turned their back on us. That's a very raw feeling that I'm working on, as it makes me incredibly sad to think like that. We've had a great deal of support from friends, and those people know this anger isn't for them. But it is what it is, and we have to find the energy to deal with the mess we've been served.
Whilst those who voted Leave will have their reasons, reasons that I hope are considered and thoughtful and not personal, the result is personal to us. Your vote has contributed to our world, our lives, yet again being under threat. It may not be personal to you but it is personal to us and we are allowed to be angry.