69-year-old Roger has received much-needed financial and emotional support from St. George’s Society since 2012. Roger found himself in a desperate situation when he was forced out of his home following a fire in the building. Our Mountbatten Intern Rachael Jones spoke to Roger about this experience and the help he has received thanks to the support of our generous donors.
How did you hear about St. George’s?
After I lost my job, I started retraining as a substance abuse counselor because it was something that interested me and my brother was an alcoholic and had died the year before. This was a program that was offered to me through AARP (American Association of Retired Persons) and after about nine months I had to do an unpaid internship placement for 32 hours a week which really cut down my opportunities to earn, so I was having money problems.
Around about this time, I saw an advert for St. George’s Society. I thought maybe I could apply for an interest-free loan or a grant for my studies, so I spoke to Mary Lamasney (St. George’s Society Social Worker) and she came down to meet me and they started helping me with my rent.
Tell us about your most recent situation?
In March there was a fire in the apartment directly beneath me and because of smoke, water damage and the Fire Department ‘interior decoration scheme’, the HPD (Department of Housing Preservation and Development) inspected the building and declared my apartment uninhabitable. So, although clothing and towels can be laundered, things like my bed, couch, chairs etc. all had to go. Personal possessions…I’ve been lucky, but all my books are gone. They smashed all the windows so there was glass in every room, soil was trodden everywhere from my house plants and lots of dust from plaster – I have to wear a gas mask when I go into the apartment because if I don’t I start coughing once I’ve left the place.
It’s kind of alright except when you go back and you look at it and you get depressed because you’re just like, ‘Where do I start?’
What does St. George’s Society mean to you?
St. George’s is continuing to help me with my rent and to replace some of the furniture ruined by the fire. I don’t know what to say…once again a lifesaver. Alongside the financial help is all the emotional support, the social work and legal services and all that advice about all the stuff you’re eligible for as a senior; to explain and guide you through it is such a help. I mean, at that point when I was doing my substance abuse counseling and not working, there were months where I had to borrow rent and by the time I’d paid it back another rent was due and I really thought ‘I could be homeless!’ If you don’t plan for your old age it happens before you know it. I had no preparations and I seriously thought ‘I could be sleeping in that park across the street’. So I don’t know what to say. Once again the St. George’s Society has been there for me.