This site has been lying dormant for some time, as I have been insanely busy.
The reasons why, and the reason why I’m posting now, are both intrinsically bound up in this GoFundMe page:
Please click to read more for the details.
Many of you may already be aware that we, my husband Spike and I, have been investigating moving to New Zealand.
We’ve been pursuing this for many reasons. We’ve been looking into this for two years now and this is absolutely the right thing for us to do, to secure our future prosperity, to guarantee our own going health and well-being and to give us the life that we need in order to be healthy and happy people.
And I need to ask for your help towards making this happen.
This is not a honeymoon. It’s not a wild dream holiday, trekking through beautiful middle earth wilderness. It is not the trip of a lifetime. It is a solid, well researched and absolutely necessary change to our lives.
1) we need a clean break from the UK, to leave our old lives behind and build a future. We both have so much baggage and we know that this is our best hope to make a firm and final break and get on with building our lives. My husband Spike has worked hard to overcome a rocky start in life. Those of you who know us personally know that he has fought a brave battle against mental health problems, and with support and encouragement he can defeat this and life a healthy and wonderful life. However, living here in the UK is like living in a personal haunted house, full of many of the worst memories and fears, and we need to move away in order for him to gain his emotional and mental freedom.
2) the brexit process and changes to FE funding means that funding for my job (English and Maths in adult education) may not be so plentiful or readily available as it has been before and I need to make sure I can work in a career to support my family.
I have already had to change jobs every 1-2 years as companies can lose funding and go bust, or hand back contracts, with very little notice. Job stability does not exist in my sector, and after 7+ years of this, I am exhausted and not sure how much more I can take.
3) the education system in NZ is an excellent match for me. I didn’t choose NZ because LOTR was pretty, I chose it because I read their national curriculum and fell in love. I realised I had been teaching on the wrong side of the world. This isn’t speculation, I know this. I have already completed my NZ teaching course. I excelled at it. My professor told me that so far in my career I had been ‘a fish in the wrong ocean’ and I needed to ‘get out to NZ and start working there as soon as possible.’ I had a brilliant experience working at a NZ high school, far better than any other place/sector I have worked in while in the UK. I passed my course with flying colours, scoring ‘Highly Developed’ in two categories of criteria and ‘Well Developed’ in the third. This is where I am supposed to be.
4) NZ is an excellent match for us. A better work life balance, good future prospects, a healthcare system that works for our needs, and education system that works for my career.
Many of you knew this already, but it never hurts to write it down. And now I am going to ask for your help.
So why are you asking for help now with this GoFundMe campaign? What’s changed?
Well, in short, I’m starting to get offered interviews for positions in New Zealand, and suddenly the clock is ticking awfully loudly.
I have one coming up tomorrow, and the chances of me being offered the job are looking EXTREMELY promising. There are another three schools who have asked for my references and been in touch about potential interviews. After two long years of trying, these people want me to go and work for them. The schools are looking for someone to start in late January 2018.
All of the hard work so far has paid off, and it has been a long two year slog. This stuff is long and complicated and costs so far have included:
1) Applying for passports for both of us (£145)
2) Applying for two different police certificates (approx. £100)
3) Assessing all of my qualifications to have them accepted by New Zealand’s Education Council (£370)
4) Enrolling on and completing the TERP (Teacher Education Refresher Programme). This included fees of £2000, Flights to NZ of £1200, living expenses for the month, including £400 rent, £400 food and £200 travel costs. I also had to cover our rent at home and Spike’s living costs for the month, which were the same again.
All in all, completing the TERP has cost me more than £5500.
5) Applying for my registration as a teacher with the education council. (£150)
Due to the strict rules on exporting animals, we’ve had to start planning for Boomer and Athena to come with us months in advance. This has included Rabies vaccinations (£100) and blood tests to confirm the success of the vaccinations (£220).
This process, so far, has cost over £6000, and we are barely half way there.
What this support will mean to us
Sitting down tonight, knowing that I have an interview tomorrow, I am suddenly faced with the true facts of how much money we need to find in the next three months and I don’t know where we’re going to get it.
We had hoped that we were going to get some help financially relocating. But this support is not available to non-Kiwis.
I had been pursuing a legal case against an irresponsible lender, but after six months I have still not heard whether my case is going to be fully investigated, and even if it is, the outcome could take months more.
One by one our avenues of income are closing off, and just as things are looking likely, my hopes for ways to pay for them are looking close to non-existent.
I am already working as hard as I can. I work full time, in a demanding job. I run my own tutoring business, offering private maths and English tuition. I have, at the moment, 13 clients on top of my full time job. I teach, on average, two people per day for intensive 1-to-1 support, on top of working full time, and three people have sessions with me each day on weekends, sometimes for two hours each. I don’t have days off unless someone cancels an appointment. I used all of my paid annual leave to go to New Zealand and work full time for my placement. On top of that, I took on a third job this year marking 720 GCSE examination scripts over the summer. At peak season, I worked from 7am until 10pm Monday to Friday, and 9am to 10pm Saturday and 9am to 6pm on Sunday. I felt guilty for taking Sunday night off, but I needed some time in the week to do my university coursework.
I wish that was an exaggeration. It is not.
I cannot physically squeeze any more pennies out of my time. Everything I have that is worth something, that I can physically bear to part with, has been sold. The car will be sold to cover the remaining finance owing on it before we go. We are in rented accommodation. Our furniture and fittings are second hand and falling apart, but will have to make the trip with us. We don’t have any more assets that can be liquidised.
Your support will mean that we can do this, that I can stop working myself into a state for hours at a time, unable to sleep in the small hours of the morning, on a hair trigger temper every time someone reminds me what all this is going to cost, frightened that this dream, this chance of a healthy and happy life, is going to slip through our hands and leave us stranded because I cannot make the numbers add up.
I wish I didn’t have to ask, but I am swallowing all of my pride and putting this up on GoFundMe.
Who will benefit?
In short … we will. Me, my husband Spike, and our two beloved cats.
Not only will this make our dream come true, it will:
· Offer my husband a genuine chance to overcome his past and secure his health for the future
· Keep our family together, preventing us from having to surrender the cats to a lifetime of rescue centre care. Athena is a three legged cat with complex future needs, Boomer is a black cat, and they are a bonded pair. Their chances of being adopted are statistically extremely low. And even leaving that aside, they are our family, and we cannot leave them behind. They belong with us.
· Allow me to make the move with my physical and mental health intact without driving myself down and through exhaustion and a possible physical breakdown, before arriving and going straight into the equivalent of an NQT year.
What will the funds be used for?
At present, this is the breakdown of what we need.
As soon as possible, we need to get our immigration medicals done. These are likely to be complicated and referred to New Zealand for second opinion, as Spike has both physical (diabetes) and mental (PTSD) health issues. I also have physical (asthma) and mental (anxiety) health histories which will need to be referred. The longer this takes, the tighter the deadlines get, and we are now up against a ticking clock.
They cost up to £400 each and can only be done by a specified list of consultants, in a limited number of locations. We need to raise £800 for this as soon as possible
Assuming that I can get an essential skills VISA, this will cost me approximately £200to apply for. This also needs to be started the day I get a job offer, or as soon as possible after that.
We have received a quote for how much it will cost for us to take Boomer and Athena to New Zealand. The quote is £1770, via one of the very few companies who work with New Zealand’s department for dealing with importing live animals. On top of that, they both need to be in quarantine in Auckland, which needs to be booked and paid for before they can be booked on a flight out. We are looking at costs of up to £2000 to take our furry family members with us, not including going back to Auckland to collect them and transport them to wherever we end up.
Then there’s our own stuff. This is going to have to be (in the case of our outdoor gear) professionally cleaned (to meet rules on contamination prevention regarding organic matter), packed and shipped, and then transported by road to wherever we end up. Including insurance, cleaning and the packing/shipping/delivery, this is going to cost in the region of £2000.
Then, there are our flights. Current prices are looking at around £700 per one way ticket, and we are going to need two. This will enable us to fly economy to New Zealand, to one of the major airports, from Heathrow. For this, we need to budget approx. £1500 (which will include insurance for us both for the journey). We won’t be flying business or better – that would more than double the cost.
Finally, there’s the small matter of what we do when we get there. We need somewhere to live. You KNOW how expensive it is moving to a new house in this country. It’s the same abroad. You need agency fees, 2 weeks rent in advance and four weeks bond. Assuming we can get a place that is comparable in cost to where we currently live, we need to find £800 to pay up front, in advance, to secure somewhere for us to live, before our stuff arrives and before we go to collect our furry family members from quarantine. Our options are already reduced, as not everywhere allows pets, and we have effectively ruled ourselves out of shared accommodation with that clause. And so beggers might not be able to be choosers. We will have to take what we can get and not haggle.
This does not even cover some of the costs we will need to address once there. Such as getting a car, travelling from the airport to wherever we end up, finding a hotel room to sleep in when we land after a 30+ hour journey. I am hopeful that we can raise funds to cover that. We should be able to get (some of) the deposit back on the flat. I will have my final salary from my employer, and I should be entitled to some redundancy pay, but it won’t be much due to the caps introduced in 2017 and the fact that I am under 40. I am still pursuing the legal case, but the time frame on that has turned to jelly.
I am not giving up. I will keep working all of the hours that every God sends me. I will keep tutoring. I will keep scraping and saving. I will take the resit marking this winter if it is offered to me. But I am living in fear right now that this will not be enough.
So how soon do we need the funds?
I am currently interviewing for jobs to start in 2018 at the end of January. Ideally, we need to be in New Zealand by around the 20th of January. The cats can’t actually leave the country before that point, so they might have to follow us later, which is an additional headache to consider. But that’s our problem, not yours.
The thing is, everything needs to be done before then. Our medicals need to be done as soon as humanly possible. See above for reasons why.
Once that’s done, the VISA needs to be applied for, and they can take up to three months, so that also needs to be started the day I get a job offer.
The longer we wait, the more expensive and complicated things will become. We need to pay a 25% deposit for the cats’ international transfer 6-8 weeks before we leave, so by early December.
We need to contact a removal company for an accurate storage quote and pay a deposit to secure their services.
The longer we wait for the flights, the more expensive they will get. January is summer time in New Zealand, the flights are in peak season over there, as are all the accommodation options and internal transport options (car hire, bus, train, etc) to get us from the airport to wherever we end up staying.
In short we need to raise this money now. As soon as possible. Otherwise, the whole thing is potentially going to fall through.
At this point, GoFundMe tells me to “Share how grateful you will be for help”
I don’t think there has been a word invented for it. It has taken me everything I have to write this and even ask.
I have absolutely no right to ask for any of this. I can’t promise that there is anything in it for any of you, beyond knowing that you have helped us to achieve this dream. Should you ever make it out to NZ and turn up on our doorstep, our welcome and hospitality is open to you. But that was already the case.
I’m really struggling for words to write this without sounding like a hackneyed X Factor contestant. This is our biggest shot at being happy and living a health life, rather than just surviving. This has been our every waking, breathing and speaking moment for the last two years. It will be until we get there. This will change our lives. And not in the sun-shiny Hollywood sense, but by giving us a shot at the future we want and need so dearly.
I have set the total for this to cover what we need to get out there. But in all honesty, if it raises anything at all, I will cry with gratitude, because it will mean that people are willing to help us and we don’t have to carry this on our own.
If I can do anything for any of you, in some form of repayment, I will do. You want tuition? You got it. You want help with a problem? You got it. You want a lift? You got it. You want a poem or story writing? A speech drafting? An essay or document proof reading? You got it. You want the use of my limited sewing/crocheting skills? You got it. Seriously. You got it. I don’t know what else I have to offer – but if you need the use of my skills, you got it.
If you can help at all, even the smallest amount, there is not way I can tell you what it would mean to us. Thank you for reading this far, and my best wishes and love to all of you.*[Got something to say? Submit to Project Shandy]*