Housing day - Liams story, Homes to Build Lives from

Housing day - Liams story, Homes to Build Lives from

Posted on 31 October 2014

It was a night I would never forget and one that would change my life forever!

My mom was a very brave lady, she was a fantastic person, a lovely person, but she suffered terribly at the hands of my dad through domestic violence.

On one particular brutal night, I won’t go into details here, but I will never forget it, my mom left my dad.

The next morning I opened my eyes and I was in a different bed, in our neighbour’s house next door. We lost everything our home, our possessions, we moved around from family to friends, often out staying our welcome, we even lived in a caravan on a farm for a while.

Times were tough, my mom was working really hard but it was difficult to make ends meet. As a single parent in the seventies it can't have been easy. I remember eating lots of pilchards on toast because my mom said fish was good for you. I also remember once asking my mom if she would buy me a little roast dinner in a silver container in a corner shop, I don't think she could afford it but she bought it me anyway. My mom devoted her life to me.

People used to say that I would grow up to be a disturbed young man, for those of you who have experienced me throwing plastic ducks into crowds and getting up to all sorts of weird and wonderful things at conferences, then perhaps they were right!

I was in the backward class at school, and I'll be honest with you I slept with the landing light on until I was about 11, I was introverted and shy. People used to bully me and take the Mickey out of me at school because I had developed a love for music and performing. But I had a fantastic mom who would say Liam:

“You can, not you can't
You will not you won't
If you've got a dream make it come true
and never ever give up”

And then finally after what seemed like years of trying, things suddenly changed for the better...

"I can always remember the look on my mom’s face when she picked up the keys to her first council house and how proud she was.”

It made a massive difference to our lives."

We had a great 1950’s built house; my mom remarried a brilliant man called Roy, my granddad moved in with us. We had a home, a place we could re-build our lives from. I made friends, played football in the street and in the nearby fields and school. There was a real sense of community and belonging. It made an incredible difference to use because suddenly we had hope and a future.

And that’s why I’m proud to be a Council House kid. I have never felt any different to any other person. There is a complete lack of understanding of people who live in social housing, council homes or Housing Associations.

They are just normal people, trying to live their lives looking for some hope, some sense of opportunity.

Yes there will always be problem families and people but that is the same on any street private or otherwise.

There is a desperate need for more affordable homes to rent and to break the misguided and ill educated stereotypical view of social housing.

My mom died of cancer a number of years ago, I miss her dearly and i often wonder what would have happened to us if she hadn’t picked up the keys to her first council house.


Liam O’Connell is now a successful business consultant, inspirational speaker and published author who has worked with businesses in the public, private and charitable sectors. He is passionate about making a difference to people’s lives.

YouTube video Link to film of above story