Edwin has always lived in Northfield, Birmingham. Edwin grew up to become a mental health nurse. He lived with his parents and his sister. 

Eventually his sister moved to the USA.  Over the years, his dad and then his mum passed away. 

Left to live alone, Edwin struggled to cope. He suffered mental health problems. He turned to alcohol and gambling and fell into financial difficulties. He couldn’t pay his bills and 7 years ago his electricity and gas were cut off. 

Edwin felt too ashamed to reach out for help. He ate hot food at the Sainsbury’s cafe. He showered at the gym. With no electricity to power his washing machine, he simply bought new clothes when the ones he was wearing became too dirty. His social life was the pub.  

His financial problems grew worse. Last year, he was facing the repossession of his home. He feared he would have to sell his house to survive. In preparation for this he paid a lot of money to have all his downstairs furniture removed. Fortunately Edwin received some help with his finances and his home was saved at the last minute. 

Good news but then the coronavirus struck – shutting down all Edwin’s support networks: the pub, the gym, the cafe.  

Edwin soon fell ill. He suffers with gout and didn’t eat for 7 days. Eventually, he called an ambulance. The hospital patched him up but sent him straight home because of the pandemic. 

Edwin has a neighbour who would see him in the street and say hello. Her name is Sam. She heard that Edwin had been in hospital and realised that he was vulnerable. When local Councillor Olly Armstrong was doing his rounds – checking who might need assistance – Sam asked if he could help Edwin. 

Councillor Armstrong contacted the Northfield Neighbourhood Network Scheme – which is a very strong network – and they sprang into action. They got Edwin’s electricity and gas switched back on. Good neighbour Sam started cooking for Edwin, washing his clothes and talking to him every day. 

Sam asked around the neighbourhood and lots of people offered to donate furniture for Edwin. The Neighbourhood Network said they could provide a van but felt the property urgently needed a deep clean before the furniture could be delivered. 

They contacted Heather at Clouds End as they had heard of the Chaos to Order project funded by Birmingham City Council.  Clouds End hired a clearance and cleaning team – N.Gervias – who could do the work as they always wear PPE. Clouds End have worked with them before – and they were brilliant!!

The cleaning took 3 days. Sam helped – taking care to maintain social distancing. She washed all Edwin’s curtains and made sure that Edwin started to look after himself. Sam has been amazing in this process and gone more than the extra mile – to the point where she ended up in hospital herself as her health isn’t too good either.

Edwin has also been given a social worker who will work with Clouds End to make sure that he doesn’t fall into difficulties again.

Edwin is looking forward to joining Heather and Pip from Clouds End at the Northfield Hoarding Support group at Northfield Fire Station when it re-opens after the pandemic.

Edwin is happier and healthier – and has a clean functioning house with electricity and gas. He now has a new support network and, at 57, a brighter future. 

Without the coronavirus crisis, this might not have happened. It’s strange how good can come out of bad!


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