When war veteran John McMillan Leishman lost his beloved wife of 67 years he was left living hand to mouth. As well as having to deal with the pain of Florence’s death, the 92-year-old had to re-assess his finances which forced him to cut back on what he spent on food.
‘I was living hand to mouth after Florence died’, said John. For months after she passed away in May 2008, I felt completely lost. Money was tight, even though I don’t smoke or gamble, so I started cutting corners on food and I wasn’t eating very much.
'I couldn’t afford to go out anywhere either and I started to feel as though my life had gone too - until I contacted Age NI.'
The father of two, grandfather of four and great-grandfather of four has seen his weekly income increase thanks to the help he received from Age NI.
‘It was like being reborn. After carrying out a benefits check they discovered I was entitled to housing benefit, rates rebate and attendance allowance. Now I am entitled to weekly benefits I didn't know I could get, which has made a huge difference to my life.
‘I had to go through a bit of a battle to get my pension credit, but after an initial rejection Age NI persuaded me to pursue my application and I was eventually awarded the benefit as well as a rebate for back payments’ he explained.
'Now that I have more money to live on, that allows me to save up to do things. I can also afford to go on holiday and I can buy proper food to keep me going.'
John has urged others to pick up the phone to Age NI.
'I don’t think there is any shame in turning to an organisation like Age NI and I’m very thankful I found out they were there. They respect you, they look after you and they go well out of their way to help you and there’s no need to be embarrassed about that. They looked after me - and now I’m sure I’ll live until I’m 100!'
£10 funds one benefits check. A successful benefits check will increase an older person’s income by £62 per week on average. That means your £10 could be worth 6 times more to an older person who needs Age NI’s help. You could be responsible for so many stories like John's... the good news stories.
If you know an older person in need of advice and support, contact the Age NI Advice Service on freephone 0808 808 7575 - we are here to listen and help.