Neighbourhood coach steps in after tragedy to help brothers keep family home
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Just weeks after the tragic loss of their mother through lung disease, a Warwickshire teenager and his 11-year-old brother faced double-heartbreak at the prospect of losing their family home.
Mandy Smith, 51, lost her nine-year battle with emphysema just four days into the New Year to the devastation of her sons Baily, 17, and Cameron, who both cared for their mother throughout the course of her illness.
The pair naturally wanted to stay in the Rugby bungalow, owned by Bromford, which they had shared with their mother since 2013. However due to the tenancy type and the age of Bailey, there were no succession rights and it therefore looked likely they would lose their home – instead moving in with their grandparents and losing the support network of their close friends and neighbours in Woodruff Close.
But quick-thinking neighbourhood coach Claire Brindley-Taylor, determined to support the boys’ wish to stay in the family home, fought a three-month campaign alongside other Bromford colleagues to find a way round the issue.
“I remember when I first visited the Nan, I honestly couldn’t see a way that Bailey and Cameron could stay but I knew it meant so much to them and was adamant that there must be something I could do,” Claire said.
“After much discussion with colleagues, housing benefit and the family, we discovered that there was actually a clause where we could use our discretion and offer Bailey – as the eldest – an Equitable Minors Tenancy dependent on him being able to claim income support. After going backwards and forwards with appointments at the job centre, phone calls to the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) and asking for mandatory reconsideration after our first application was refused, I’m delighted to say Bailey was awarded income support as well as a backdated payment of housing benefit which allowed us to keep them both where they belong.”
Bailey, who is studying a multi-skilled construction course at Rugby College, said: “It has meant the world to me that Bromford have helped us keep this home and we’ve already been decorating the place to pay homage to our mum – it feels like she is still here with us.”
Grandmother Diane said: “I don’t know where they would be right now if they hadn’t been able to keep this place and poor old Cameron would have been devastated. All the neighbours love them and they have that support network in place, as well as us popping down every fortnight. It could have had a catastrophic effect on their mental wellbeing and I’m just so grateful to Bromford because it was absolutely the right thing to do.”
Football-mad Cameron is still at school nearby while Bailey continues to flourish under his new-found responsibilities which include making home improvements and completing the weekly shop.
Claire added: “I put my full trust in Bailey and he has responded magnificently. What the boys have gone through is so sad but both of them have aspirations of doing their mother proud and that’s why I was so determined to keep them in this property having had some brilliant support by colleagues along the way.”