The creation of a charity, from the very beginning.
In 2010, I started my Social Work Masters. For the first few months of the course I was really struggling. I was several thousand pounds in debt; couldn’t afford to pay rent and could only afford one meal a day. I was working every evening and weekend to try and earn enough to continue my course but I soon realized that I would not be able to sustain my lifestyle for two years. Anyone who has struggled with money will know the pervasive impact it has on your life. It is a source of constant worry, stress and sadness. I was very low for many weeks. Knowing how much I wanted to do Social Work and knowing that I couldn’t afford to, was heartbreaking.
One evening in October, I remember clearly, I was sitting at a bus stop, on the outer suburbs of Sheffield, after another evening shift as a social carer. It was dark and cold and pouring down with rain. My bus was typically late. After forty minutes of waiting I burst in to tears. I remember literally sobbing in the street. Luckily there was no one around to see me as the pathetic mess I was. As I started to pull myself together, my Mum rang me. I still to this day believe that phone call was a miracle.
Mum knew I had been struggling with money and had rung to tell me that her Uncle Reid, who had met me twice as a young child, was willing to pay off all my debts, pay for my rent for two years and provide me with a weekly income. Reid was willing to do all that because he knew from my Mum just how much I wanted to be a Social Worker. Unsurprisingly, I reverted in to uncontrollable sobbing.
Because of Reid, I was able to continue the course and without the constant worry of lack of money. Reid gave me the two greatest academic years of my life. I spent every day learning how to help people to the best of my ability. He enabled me to spend my time concentrating on the thing I love most in the world.
I completed the course in July of this year and am due to graduate in January. I was waiting until my Graduation Day to tell Reid exactly how much he had done for me; to tell him that completing this Masters and qualifying as a Social Worker is my proudest achievement to date; to tell him thank you.
I found out on Tuesday that Reid passed away in the night. It was sudden but it was peaceful.
I am filled with incredible guilt and sadness that I did not tell Reid what he meant to me sooner. Reid barely knew me but was willing to give his money to see me fulfil my dream. My admiration for him is indescribable.
My Mum has told me that before he died, Reid put aside enough money for me to start a PHD. Something I desperately want to do but never thought I could afford.
I want you to know Reid, that because of you I spend every day trying to help some of the most vulnerable children in our society. With Social Work I have found my purpose in life. The work I do and the people I work with complete me.
I am devastated that the world no longer has you in it. My memories of you are as a kind and gentle man and I promise to work tirelessly to ensure that your generosity continues through me.
All I can really say (and what I should have said a long time ago) is ‘Thank you’.
Rest in peace, Reid. xxx