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Man's Christmas joy as his home is saved

By Staf Newsletter  |  Posted: December 24, 2012

Graham Hollinshead

Graham Hollinshead

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A STAFFORD man says he hit rock bottom and contemplated suicide as he faced being turfed out of his home because of cash problems.

Graham Hollinshead, 59, feared he would end up homeless by Christmas when he became ill, had to give up his job and fell into serious debt.

His Brisbane Road home, which he shares with an older relative, was facing repossession as he could not keep up with the mortgage payments.

But at the 11th hour he got help from Stafford Borough Council and the Citizens’ Advice Bureau and last month heard the news he could stay in his home.

The help came from the Government Mortgage Rescue Scheme where the council helps find a buyer in the social housing sector, in this case Stafford and Rural Homes, allowing the owner to stay in their property by paying rent.

Mr Hollinshead told the Newsletter: “It was the most horrible, stressful time and I had no idea there was help available.

“At the beginning of the year I suffered a frozen shoulder and had to give up my job as a self-employed taxi driver. My vehicle was then repossessed. I got into serious debt with the mortgage and I was facing losing my house.

“My mum’s partner Arthur Smith lives with me as I said he could stay here when my mother died eight years ago from cancer.

I was worried about what would happen to him. I was so stressed out I felt like committing suicide.” Mr Hollinshead said it was a huge relief with me as I said he could stay here when my mother died eight years ago from cancer.

I was worried about what would happen to him. I was so stressed out I felt like committing suicide.” Mr Hollinshead said it was a huge relief to stay in his home, especially for Christmas.

Stafford and Rural Homes has installed new central heating and is planning to put in a new kitchen.

Mr Hollinshead added: “I just want other people to know about this scheme. I feel for families going through this. The thought of losing your house is awful.”

Mr Hollinshead is one of more than 30 householders and families who have been able to remain in their own property through the rescue scheme. In another recent case a couple in their 60s from the Moss Pitt area became SARH tenants, enabling them to remain in their home.

The borough council is urging people who fear they could lose their homes to contact them to see if they are eligible.

The scheme is due to end in 2014.

Councillor Patrick Farrington, cabinet member for community, said: “I’d urge anyone in this position to come and speak to us and not bury their heads in the sand.

“We can advise and support them with a number of options that are available and, as on many occasions, this could help save their home.”

People who find themselves in difficulties with paying their mortgage should always speak to their lender first but can also contact the Housing Options Team on 01785 619000 or housingadvice @staffordbc.gov.uk. There is also a dropin advice surgery each weekday morning between 9.30am to 11.30am.

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