Poet Jeanette Ju-Pierre: ‘I can’t sleep’
Published: 15 June, 2012
by PETER GRUNER
A WEST Indian poet has received a humbling apology after irreplaceable personal possessions put into storage by Islington Council mysteriously disappeared.
Jeanette Ju-Pierre, 52, who works as an administrator for the Department for Transport, allowed her belongings to be packed into 24 boxes and put into storage when the council was due to carry out refurbishment to her flat in Rawstone Street, Clerkenwell.
Emily Thornberry, Labour MP for Islington South and Finsbury, took up the case after the council admitted it could not find Ms Ju-Pierre’s possessions and that it suspects they have been wrongly destroyed.
Ms Ju-Pierre, whose Caribbean-inspired poetry has been published in The Big Issue magazine, has lost family home movies on video, photos, about 20 books and novels and notebooks which contained her own writing along with many other items of sentimental value.
The belongings were taken into storage by now-defunct housing agency Homes for Islington in September 2010. Workmen were due to refurbish her kitchen and bathroom at Brewery Buildings but the work never took place.
Ms Ju-Pierre waited a year and, with no sign that the work would ever be done, decided in January this year that she wanted her belongings back.
She said: “I regret that, with so much work at the Department and poetry commitments, I didn’t try and get my things back sooner. But they were in a proper storage facility in Hackney and I assumed they were safe.
“At first they couldn’t find my possessions. Then to my horror I was told that they have probably been destroyed.
“I have lost valuable personal items such as family photographs, videos, Caribbean study books, writing journals, poetry books – personal possessions which can never be compensated.
“It’s like losing a part of your life. It’s really hit me hard and affected my health. I can’t sleep at night thinking about what I’ve lost.”
Ms Ju-Pierre has received £500, the value of her inventory for insurance purposes. The council is also crediting her account with £100 as a goodwill payment.
Labour housing chief Councillor James Murray said: “I was very sorry to hear about Ms Ju-Pierre’s possessions being disposed of as a result of this mistake, and the council has apologised about what happened.
“Although I know many of the items won’t be replaceable, we have arranged for Ms Ju-Pierre to be paid the value of her possessions plus an extra payment to recognise the distress of this whole incident.
“I have also spoken to senior officers about reviewing how this mistake happened and asked them to take appropriate action.”