“I love helping people and I love fundraising a lot – me and Jason have been doing it now for the past fifteen years. So that is why I am doing one of the fundraisers this year, for St Martin-in-the-Fields Charity"
You might remember Jason and Louise from the 2021 Christmas Appeal, when they told their story about experiencing homelessness. In December, they had just moved into their very own bungalow, after receiving a grant from St Martin’s Charity to cover their first month’s rent. Prior to this, they had been placed in unsuitable temporary accommodation that they needed to get out of as soon as possible.
Jason and Louise had been living in a bungalow owned by Jason’s mum, but when their relationship with her deteriorated, they had to leave at short notice. It was a turbulent time, and with nowhere else to go, they ended up sleeping in their car. Luckily, Jason already knew Lynne, a support-worker from a veteran’s charity, the FirstLight Trust, whom he had fundraised for in the past, and she was able to offer help.
Lynne quickly got an offer for temporary accommodation through the council for Jason and Louise, but when they got there, they found that it was dirty, noisy, and inaccessible due to the stairs. Louise has lived with a disability since her childhood, and Jason has suffered with mobility issues and chronic pain since a motorbike accident, so they needed somewhere to live that did not have stairs. That is where St Martin’s Charity, and you, came in. Lynne was able to apply for a grant to cover the first month’s rent on a bungalow for Jason and Louise, and they soon moved in.
6 months on, we went to catch up with Jason and Louise now that they are settled in their new home. They shared how they had had a quiet Christmas surrounded by family – on Christmas day, they spent the afternoon with their son, daughter-in-law, and their grandkids at their house, before having them all over to their bungalow on Boxing Day.
Since then, Jason and Louise have been hard at work making their house into a home. As well as painting and furnishing the whole house, the space is full of personal touches. On the walls there are pictures from their wedding, their grandchildren’s’ artwork, and even a note from our ambassador Hugh Dennis framed on the wall, that he gave to them at Christmas time.
“It’s just bits and pieces that need doing, just finishing touches”
Last year, Jason and Louise told us how eager they were to have their grandkids come to visit, and this time round it is clear that they have been making the most of having their own space to do just that. With sleepovers most weekends, Jason and Louise’s bungalow is a home away from home for them. As well as spending time there, they make the most of the local countryside, with weekend trips to feed the ducks and the Shetland ponies.
“Now it is looking more like a home, they sleep over because they feel it is more like their place as well now, don’t they? So yes, it is good. They wear you out, but they are brilliant. They are so funny”
Reflecting on how grateful they are for the St Martin’s Charity grant that allowed them to access their bungalow, Jason and Louise are keen to do some fundraising themselves. They have some experience with this, as they had previously fundraised for the FirstLight Trust, the veteran’s charity that went on to help them when they found themselves in a tricky spot. Now, they want to fundraise for St Martin’s Charity, so they can help other people who might have experienced the same difficulties as them.
“I love helping people and I love fundraising a lot – me and Jason have been doing it now for the past fifteen years. So that is why I am doing one of the fundraisers this year, for St Martin-in-the-Fields Charity”
Thanks to you, Jason and Louise, and thousands more people, can receive our grants that make such a difference. And now that they are happy and settled in their new home, they want to ensure others have the same opportunities as them. Being involved with charities for such a long time, they are aware of the support that is out there, and how crucial it is that help is available.
“Everyone is going to need someone at the end of the day. There are a lot of people out there that are too scared to ask for help. Just ask, ask, ask. My old man would say “you don’t know until you ask” … there is always someone out there that will help you. You ask enough, someone will help. They can only say no, but 99% of the time they will say yes”
When we were talking about the help they received from St Martin’s Charity, Jason and Louise think back to last year, and how far they have come since then.
“It was really important for you to help us because, if it hadn’t been for you, and the support we got from the FirstLight Trust, who knows where we would be now. We might still be in that horrible hotel room. Or living in our car. And look where we are now, on this amazing journey. And it is all thanks to you and the collaboration of all the charities that have helped us”.