When Thomas O’Neill was left money by his family in Ireland he was unsure what paperwork needed doing, so he did nothing.
Thomas, now 69 (and a half) found dealing with the unexpected gift hugely stressful.
“I’ve had nothing all my life and now I had, it was a big headache,” explains Thomas who left school at 11 and then worked on his family’s farm in Kilkenny before moving to London in 1967 to work for his uncle. “I wanted to just forget and go back to living on my pension, taking it day-by-day. I’d been to see an accountant and I wanted to find a solicitor. A gentleman said go and talk to Age UK Camden. Five weeks went by and I was at my wit’s end, so I walked into the huge building on Tavistock Square. First, I met the receptionist, and she could see I was worried. Then I met an advisor and explained. It took a few visits and I had to bring in the paperwork. With my permission she got on the phone to the council and the Department of Work & Pensions (DWP).”
Age UK Camden’s intervention meant Thomas was able to stop worrying he’d lose his Gospel Oak flat. As a bonus they suggested he joined a literacy course in Phoenix Road so now he’s also brushing up on his reading and writing skills, and he’s happy again. “I went in there in a right old state. I thought it was the end of the world. But it wasn’t, it just had to be explained.”