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Our Credit Crunch Commune: Feeling The Pinch? These Three Families Were - And Found A Very 21st-century Solution

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Last summer, Maria Roberts was living a pretty dreary existence. There she was, single mother to a nine-year-old son, living in a small, two-bedroom house on a Manchester estate, getting by on the money she earned as a writer.

'I felt I was failing,' she says. 'I didn't want my son growing up in a pokey flat in a rundown area.'

Fast forward to 2009 and life is very different. Home is a spacious four-bedroom house in a leafy South London suburb, with two reception rooms, a state-of-the-art kitchen and an airy dining room with French doors that lead to a 60ft lawned garden.

This is where son Patrick can be found playing football with the other males of the household.

For Maria and her son now share a home - and much of their lives - with two other single-parent families: Andrew Fleetwood, 36, and his son Bradley, four, and Laverne Hunt, 43, and her two daughters Isabella, ten, and Libby, eight.

The arrangement was Maria's idea and she believes she's found the perfect way to transform the lot of fractured families the length and breadth of Britain.

By teaming up in what amounts to a single-parent commune, not only have there been material benefits for all three adults involved, they have also been able to provide the missing role models which were lacking in their children's lives.

To many parents, the prospect of sharing a home with other families is terrifying. And all three admit there have been tears, rows and simmering annoyances.

And yet, overall, they are convinced it has made their lives richer, more secure and happier.

'We were all so lonely, struggling on our own, but by joining forces we have gained so much,' says Maria.

'Patrick doesn't see his father and he doesn't have siblings, but now he has a man to look up to and there are always children to play with.

Our relationship was very intense when it was just the two of us, but he seems so much jollier here.'


Laverne adds: 'I wondered if the neighbours would think we were lesbians when we moved in together, but now we have a father living here, it's the perfect arrangement.


The sleeping arrangements see Laverne and the girls sharing one bedroom, with Andrew and Bradley in another; the au pair has the third and Patrick has the fourth.

Maria's room is the study downstairs.

Everyone agrees on the biggest drawback: the lack of time alone.

'If you're in a bad mood and just want to sulk in your room, someone will knock at the door,' says Maria. It also makes dating rather complicated, as Laverne recounts.

'One guy turned up at the house with a guitar on his back, planning to serenade me. He was a bit surprised to find Andrew standing in front of him in his dressing gown!'


And now the neighbours just think it's one big gang bang :lol::lol:

And they have an au pair living there.

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doesn't sound too bad for them - i can't help thinking that at some point local government will find some irregularity in the shape of the drive and bulldoze the place or something

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Despite jokes from friends, there is no chance of any romance between Andrew and either of the mums.

Oh, I see, straight down to business is it then?

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  • 404 Brexit, House prices and Summer 2020

    1. 1. Including the effects Brexit, where do you think average UK house prices will be relative to now in June 2020?

      • down 5% +
      • down 2.5%
      • Even
      • up 2.5%
      • up 5%

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