Airdrie & Coatbridge Advertiser
Raymond’s plea for help was a really wise decision
Group has helped 56-year-old rebuild his life
When Raymond reached out to The Wise Group in crisis just days before Christmas 2018, his mentor found him sitting in darkness in a freezing house in Lanarkshire.
Within the home he’d shared with his parents, Raymond – who is now aged 56 – was seeking solace in drink after the death of his father and his mum’s move into a care home.
From a 50-year-old burst chair that was the living room’s only item of furniture, Raymond confided in mentor David Young about his dependence on alcohol and how it had contributed to him becoming estranged from his children.
“South Lanarkshire Council were chasing him for rent, as it is a fourapartment house, and the council tax and bedroom tax were building up,” explained David, who has been a Wise Group employee for nine years.
“He was now a single man living there – but this was, and still is, his family home for over 30 years and he didn’t want to give it up. He was sitting in darkness, as the power was off. The heating had been off for a long time – maybe even months.”
The house was in a state of disrepair, with an old and dilapidated bathroom and a kitchen that was thick with mould and grease.
All rooms bore the brunt of decades of cigarette smoke, and rot had eaten away at the bottom of the front door, leaving a 10-inch gap.
“Raymond told me all about his past, his current family problems and his issues with drink which had recently flared up, as his father had passed and his mother had gone into a care home after a double amputation, losing both her legs,” explained David.
“He was left to try and sort out his parents’ affairs. He’d been the sole carer for his mum and dad. His carer’s allowance had also stopped since his mother went into care, and they were clawing back an overpayment.
“Grieving for his father and worrying about his mother was laying into his mental state, and it was easier for him to sit in a dark room and feel sorry for himself about the big bad world and what it had done to him.”
Although Raymond had a sibling, they had fallen out over money and accusations of mismanaging his parents’ affairs.
On checking his gas and electricity meters, David found debt on both. And each time Raymond topped up, the payments were being swallowed up by arrears.
David – a Wise Group team leader who runs three fuel poverty projects – went to the local shop to purchase power cards, light bulbs and batteries for the smoke alarms, which were automatically activated any time power was restored to the property.
As well as helping him address rent and council tax arrears by reaching out to the Money Matters service, David contacted BT and Sky about unpaid bills sent to Raymond’s late father.
Because the gas and electricity accounts were in his mum’s name, David set up new accounts for Raymond, and the debts were cleared.
David, who trawled through a pile of unopened mail with Raymond, was also able to apply to the Wise Group Emergency Fund for £98 to ensure the power supply remained on while he sorted his benefit claim.
David, who lives in Law and is based in Hamilton, continued: “I applied for the Warm Home Discount and he received £140 in April 2019.
“I have supported Raymond ever since to apply for his Warm Home Discount annually.
“I have shown him how to apply himself, but he has struggled with his addiction issues and lost his mother during the last lockdown.
“Although he continues to struggle, we have over the last three years managed to secure over £800 in top-ups to maintain his supply, as well as £420 worth of Warm Home Discounts, with next year’s also already applied for.”
With the help of his mentor and The Wise Group, recovering alcoholic Raymond – a former employee of Land Wise – has managed to remain in the family home.
He has been in voluntary rehab for his alcohol issues, and now attends addiction services in Cambuslang as a volunteer who helps others fight their addictions.