Boston floods: Generosity of the suffering

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People can be amazing.

When I was leaving the home of Karen Haywood, a flooding survivor in Boston, Lincolnshire, she was very concerned that I had something to eat and drink for my journey home.

This from a woman with whom I had spent the past three hours learning just how little she had.

She has mould growing up her walls, a storage box  for a washing machine and no hope of an insurance company picking up the tap for the loss of pretty much everything in her home (she had no insurance).

I pointed this out, gently. But she was having none of it.

Karen Hayood, flooding victim, Boston, Lincolnshire
Karen Hayood, flooding victim, Boston, Lincolnshire

Proof, if it were needed, not only that those with the least often give the most but also that giving is an essential part of being human, of confirming a bond, of time valuably shared.

I came into contact with Karen last week for a commissioned assignment with the BBC.

Technically, I’ve failed the brief.

Mould on the walls
Karen Hayood, flooding victim, Boston, Lincolnshire

I was asked to do an intimate portrait of life after a recent flooding from the perspective of one person, about how their insurance claim is going and about the people who have got them back on their feet.

Karen, of course, ticks the first box but not the latter. She has no insurance and she is not back on her feet.

Tea bags with no means of boiling water, a broken television, a jar of jam with nothing to spread it on.

A joke duck
Karen Hayood, flooding victim, Boston, Lincolnshire

As Karen opened up to me about her experiences I became increasingly convinced that she was exactly the person I should be photographing and writing about.

Enough has been written about those able to afford their own generators along the Thames Valley, or who get Princes to lay their sandbags.

The experience of Karen stands outside this Blitz narrative of triumph over adversity.

Karen’s life has been crushed. Two months after the flooding, she has her son, her dog and not much else.

And I bet she’s not alone.

  1. Mrs S Rieu

    I am very moved by the dignity of Karen and would like to send a little help. How can I do it? Thank you

  2. Oksana

    PLEASE,PLEASE help, this is my second attempt to find a contact with this poor woman. We want to help and, first of all, to buy a washing machine for her. Please, help us to help. Apart from WM we can donate some useful things, it is only needed to be discussed what this family needs and what they would accept..Thank you and look forward to your response ASAP.

  3. photo75

    Dear both – if you wished to email your details to me at I would be very happy to pass them on to Karen if that helps. Best wishes, Laurence

  4. Oksana

    Dear Laurence, thank you very much for your response. Please, check your email as I’ve sent my contacts to you. Kind regards, Oksana.

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