Gerard was living in an ordinary house in an ordinary suburb; doing all the usual things a father does—going to work every day, taking his three boys to the playground, picking them up after football—just the normal stuff every dad does. The family wasn’t overly flush but between his job and the part-time job his wife Elaine had they made ends meet and even went on holidays from time to time.

Sadly this ordinary life came to an abrupt end when Elaine was killed in a car accident. Just one of those things; after dropping the boys to school one Thursday morning she was driving home and her car hit a patch of black ice and that was it. In the blink of an eye life as they all knew it had changed forever. In the immediate aftermath everyone was very supportive but it was when everything had gone back to normal for everyone else that the reality of Gerard’s new life hit home.

The youngest, Ger Junior, was only three and was in crèche and had the be picked up and dropped off each day. The other two lads, John and Olly were seven and ten respectively and were going to the local primary school. It was a lot to get his head around between his work and school and crèche and everything else! After six months Ger realised that he was having difficulty making ends meet because of the after-school fees and the crèche fees and a child-minder to look after the boys until he got home from work. Of course there was no possibility of accepting overtime anymore because he had to be there for homework and meals and all the other things that he needed to do.

Not only were the family experiencing the grief and shock of the loss of Elaine but they were missing all the love, care, time and attention she had given them all. Elaine’s income was also missed. 18 months after Elaine’s death Ger was in arrears with his mortgage—there simply wasn’t enough to go around to pay everything that needed to be paid. Reading an article in a local paper one night after the lads were in bed he saw that Mid West Simon had a relationship with the Irish Mortgage Holders Organisation (IMHO) whereby they would help prepare all the necessary documentation for the IMHO to represent his case to his lender.

He didn’t know what would come of going to see Mid West Simon but he knew that his problem wouldn’t just go away and that he had to do something about his situation—and sooner rather than later!

Ger made an appointment to see our Advice and Information person one Monday morning. He had brought as much paperwork with him as he could; loan documents; payment receipts; wages receipts and bank statements and so the process of dealing with his mortgage arrears began. During his appointment he was offered access to our food bank and the FEAD programme. Reluctant at first to accept the offer, once it was explained how the food would help him spare €40 to €50 a fortnight he agreed that the money saved could be well used elsewhere! Our Advice and Information person also checked through the entitlements that he might have been eligible for as a single dad with three young children. They also gave him information about support services that are available for bereaved parents and children and helped him find affordable after-school care for the boys.

Ger’s mortgage is being restructured with the help of the IMHO and he continues to avail of the food bank when things are tight.

Slowly but surely he’s feeling more in control of his life again. He says, ’I am so grateful to the people I met at Mid West Simon! I found it hard to take that first step but I am so glad I did! ‘The food I get is a great help—it’s freed up that extra few bob that lets me pay an outstanding bill or two when they come in. Hopefully once my mortgage is sorted I will be back in the black and I won’t have to take the food anymore. Now I’m looking forward to the future. I felt I was letting the boys down—as their sole parent I wanted to do the best

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