Dear Friends,

Isabelle Defoe

Thank you for visiting my site today.  Please take a few moments to read the unbelievable chain of events that have happened to me over a period of nearly 3 years and why I am appealing to the generosity of people like you, passionate about Truth and Justice.

 

I am now reaching out to you, dear friend and visitor to consider lending me some financial help to meet legal costs so that I can see True Justice take place in my life.

 

A friend said that my story should become a Netflix movie. Maybe one day…

 

Some of you know me, Isabelle, as the Editor of the Promota magazine, when I was writing uplifting and encouraging articles for its many readers.

 

Some of you know me also as a friend, a step-mum, a dementia and end of life carer, a confidant, spiritual adviser and comforter, a friend of death row prisoners, a financial supporter, and in many other roles that I cannot even list in full.

 

The help I need today however is relating to the role I fulfilled for close to 30 years, (23 years of those in a voluntary capacity) as the Co-Founder of a charity for the homeless, where I performed a long and varied list of professional tasks.

Here is my story:

In 1990, my first husband, whom I will call A., and I created a charitable organisation for homeless people whom our society and authorities deemed non-priority cases for rehousing.

 

This unfair categorising of people in need encouraged A. and I to create housing for exactly those very people who also needed a roof over their heads for a while to get back on their feet, even though the government thought otherwise.

 

Our work was arduous to start with. We had not a penny in the charity’s kitty the day we were granted our official charity registration number in March 1990.  In the first 4 years, we fundraised 7 hours a day for 5 days a week during rush hour on many London underground and main line stations.  We endured frostbitten fingers and toes, icy winds, heat waves and constant tiredness from our daily 7 hours of standing whilst fundraising in the middle of rushing commuters.

 

Our efforts paid off though, and through this punishing regimen, coupled with the running of our charity shop, we accumulated enough funds for the charity to buy its first freehold property in cash in 1994, where we relocated our offices, opened a new charity shop and created our first 6 flats for the homeless. Much encouraged by this huge achievement, and seeing the lives of homeless people positively transformed by the new homes we gave them, we carried on with our fundraising activities and the running of the charity shop, and eventually enabled the charity to acquire another freehold property and to build two brand new houses. With 4 properties and 40 flats to its name, the charity helped hundreds of homeless people over the years, giving them a secure place to call home and a chance to start a new life.

 

In January 2016, A. my first husband and cofounder sadly passed away. A. and I had divorced some years before but we had remained very close friends and work colleagues throughout the years. I had also become A.’s carer as he suffered from cancer for a short while before he succumbed to the disease.

 

I was utterly devastated by A.’s passing, filled with unbearable grief at having lost my long standing friend and soul mate of 30 years. Despite being utterly heartbroken, I could not take any time off as the charity and its many tenants needed me. I was appointed by the Board of trustees as General Manager. D., my current husband, was appointed Property Manager of the charity. The Chair of Trustees, an ex-wife of my co-founder A. also appointed her son in a managerial position. A. was also the father of the Chair’s son, and he had never been involved with the charity before.  This mother and son duo would prove key in the disastrous events that unfolded later.

 

Before I could even start to feel any kind of healing from losing A., a nefarious turn of event shattered my entire life personally and professionally and plunged D. and I into the darkest period of our lives, which we are still experiencing to this day, as you read these very words.

 

In March 2018, the Chair falsely accused D. of not fulfilling his role as Property Manager, accusing him of asking contractors to do his job, costing the charity a hefty sum of money. These outrageous and unexpected false accusations came completely out of the blue. Up to that day, there had never been any performance issues raised by the Board, but only praises given for the hard work and commitment that we managers invested in the charity since the passing of A. 

 

In that shambolic meeting, the Chair was seconded in her false accusations by her son and her close friend, who was also a trustee. Two additional trustees could not attend the meeting that day, which left D. and I vulnerable to the Chair’s unexpected attack.

 

After that day, our lives turned into a daily nightmare, and it has not stopped since.

 

Shortly after that meeting, D. raised a list of grievances against the Chair. I wrote lengthy reports protesting about the unjust treatment that D. had been subjected to.

 

At the beginning of May 2018, the Chair made new and even more serious false accusations against D. and me.

 

At the end of May 2018, before D. even had had a chance to have his first grievances against the Chair heard by an independent HR, the Chair, without following any due process and completely out of the blue, sent him a disciplinary letter listing the same false allegations she had made before and also suspended him from his job.

 

D. was utterly shocked by the Chair’s renewed attack, but  knew he could very easily clear his name at a disciplinary hearing.

 

Worse was yet to come.

 

A few days after D.’s suspension, the Chair and her son, without any warning, changed the locks to the charity’s head office and basically locked me out of my office where I had been working for the previous 22 years!! Now it was my turn to raise a whole list of grievances against the Chair.

 

I cannot tell you the utter devastation I felt at being denied access to my work space because of the Chair and her son’s irrational, unconscionable and illegal action!  I had to take time off sick for the first time ever in my entire working life!  My mind was reeling from this latest injustice, swinging between deep despair to complete outrage!  Despite the Chair’s attempt to make my life as difficult as possible, I resumed work but in very stressful circumstances, without access to any of my work equipment, and without my office space.

 

My lock-out precipitated the breakdown of our mental health. We soon started to experience a whole gamut of serious PTSD symptoms. Our anxiety and stress levels shot through the roof. D. witnessed my mental and emotional anguish every day, which aggravated his own symptoms. He too could not sleep and when he did, ended up having terrible nightmares. We both experienced chest pains and had to have ECGs on a couple of occasions to make sure we were not facing heart attacks.

In order to keep the story a little shorter, I will summarise the following 18 months that D. and I had had to endure. Our story would otherwise fill an entire book.

 

In August 2018, D. and I both had a grievance interview with a supposedly independent HR that the Chair had influenced against us prior to our interviews.  The investigation reports this HR person wrote were hugely flawed and stacked against us, instead of bringing the Chair to book. But still, D. and I were allowed back to work by a majority vote of 2 to 1. However, the Chair promptly made sure that one trustee changed her vote against us, and now D. and I were prevented from going back to work after all! This was another devastating blow for both of us.  Stress, anxiety, and despair increased in our lives to unbearable levels.

 

We had no choice but to appeal the new trustees’ decision. From November 2018 up until the end of September 2019 when we were made redundant, D. and I fought tirelessly to have our grievance appeals heard.  In order to make sure that D. and I would be silenced forever, and that she would never have to answer to her outrageous lies and false accusations, the Chair broke the ACAS code numerous times during that period; in addition, she quickly appointed a CEO to the charity without our knowledge until it was fait accompli, and tasked him to hear our grievance appeals. We refused to have this CEO conduct our appeals, knowing the Chair had already tarnished our characters in his eyes, thereby rendering the process totally unfair and stacked against us a second time. This CEO was used as a pawn to give an air of credibility to the Chair and her son’s hostile take over. Less than a year later, he and four new employees left the organisation acrimoniously.

 

I was constantly worried about the future of the organisation I had founded with A., which was so dear to my heart and which I had spent 26 years nurturing.

 

In February 2019, I decided to submit a Whistleblowing document to the Charity Commission, listing my many concerns about the Chair’s and her son’s conduct, and the way the whole organisation was now being run by the mother-son duo.

 

A few days after submitting my Whistleblowing document, at the end of February 2019, the CEO promptly suspended me from the job I had been doing since 1990!

 

Needless to say, this latest blow nearly brought me to my knees. Our state of mind spiralled down a black hole even further.

 

But we were also spurred on by an immense sense of injustice and, with the help of our solicitor, we kept on fighting for our right to have our grievance appeals heard by an independent party. The Chair knew she could not run the risk of having us exposing the truth about her many lies and her breaches of ACAS code, amongst other forms of misconduct she performed for close to 18 months.  So she and the CEO devised a plan to restructure the charity that would make my and D.’s job obsolete, whilst keeping her son’s position safe. The CEO and the Chair, supported by her son and two other trustees, ensured that we would both be made redundant, which is indeed what happened at the end of September 2019. To the very last moment, the CEO refused to arrange a grievance appeal hearing with someone else. He shut our case for good, thereby silencing truth and justice forever.

 

There I was, a total emotional wreck, after losing my life’s work at the hands of a woman and her son, whom I had both known for over 3 decades and who were both only interested in their own agenda, with the son now benefitting from my 29 years of hard work, without having himself contributed a single hour to the creation of the charity that I and his father built up with so much love, care and dedication.

 

At the end of December 2019, we filed a claim for unfair dismissal with the employment tribunal. Since the Chair and the Board failed to give us the opportunity to redress the situation amicably very early on when we asked for it, going to court was our only option.  Since then, we have been working on our case, trawling through hundreds of documents, drafting our witness statements, in which we expose the truth and the injustice that we have been subjected to for some very dark and long 18 months.

 

D. and I have suffered from aggravated stress, anxiety and depression ever since the Chair’s first attack on us in 2018. She did everything in her power to get rid of both of us in her very crooked and wily ways, and with the support of her son, two other trustees and the CEO, she succeeded.

 

But… D. and I are absolutely dedicated to Truth and Justice. We mentally and psychologically suffer every day from the aftermath of our ordeal.  Our PTSD symptoms have increased even more over the last few months as we fight on with our case. More lies and deceit by the Chair have come to light in new documents submitted by the other party. Our evidence is overwhelmingly compelling, and our unwavering commitment to truth will see us prevail at our tribunal hearing.

 

However, we cannot do this alone anymore. This case has drained us in so many ways since March 2018. We have reached the stage where we need to call out to the kindness, compassion and generosity of people who are also dedicated to Truth and Justice and who could support us to fund our ongoing legal fees.   We cannot fight this fight without legal support as our case is just too extensive and the process is quite complex. A 10 day hearing is scheduled for the end of December 2021.

 

My husband and I are now living with deteriorated mental health.  So much so, that we have recently been referred to a Mental Health Team for complex PTSD. Every day is a challenge. But we find courage in the fact that we will have our day in court when we will speak our truth loud and clear, and in public.

 

We thank you for considering bringing some light into our lives. From the bottom of our hearts, we are truly grateful.

 

United we stand. And with your help, Justice will prevail. Thank you.

 

Isabelle and D.

You can visit my Gofundme page here. Thank you and bless you.