Iain, who is 35, and works for the NHS, lives with his partner, Lewis, and their miniature Schnauzer, Winston, just outside of Newcastle. Since the couple bought their first home together about 18 months ago, Iain has made the important decision to write a Will. We spoke to Iain about why he’s decided to leave a gift to Barnardo’s in his Will and about the impact he’d like to have when he’s gone.
Why did you decide to leave a gift in your Will to Barnardo’s?
“Barnardo’s helped me out a lot at a time when I really needed it.
As a teenager, I often felt quite alone. I had a lot of behavioural problems because I hadn’t yet been diagnosed with ADHD, and I also wasn’t sure about my sexuality. I was an only child and I lived with my Mum and her partner who I didn't get on with at all. I didn't see my Mum very much despite living in the same house. Emotionally, it was tough.
Just after I had turned 17, there was a big argument at the house and my mum's partner was shouting in my face. I'd never done anything like this before – it was like a build-up of all this pressure and distress – and I lashed out at my mum's partner. They ended up ringing the police and then told me I couldn’t live there anymore.
I had nowhere to stay and no idea what I was going to do. I ended up at this career advice centre that I’d been to a couple of times before for help. I went there and spoke to someone about what happened because I didn’t know what else to do. He told me there was an organisation that could help upstairs, and he introduced me to some really nice people from a Barnardo’s service. That’s where I met Fiona for the first time, who helped me get set up in a bedsit really quickly.
For the next 18 months or so, I saw Fiona every week. She came in and she basically sorted everything out. She got me into a social housing flat in a nice area and helped me out with my bills. While I was there, I ended up falling in with people who weren’t really my friends, and I got really scared about it because I didn’t know how to remove myself from the situation. So, I gave up that flat and I ended up in a privately rented flat that I could not afford. I was trying to do things myself, but I don't know what I was thinking.
I fell behind on my rent, got into debt, owed money, and then Fiona helped me again to get another flat. She just helped me with everything – not just getting sorted with somewhere to live, but she was there every week, someone I could talk to, and someone regular who I could rely on. I always looked forward to seeing her, she was the kind of lovely, friendly person who would just get on with anyone. She showed me how to cook and helped me to figure out what to buy when we went shopping. She also gave me so much advice and help when I was figuring out my sexuality, which gave me more confidence in myself.
Now, I feel so privileged with where I am in my life. I live in a two-bedroom house, I have a stable job and a car, I’ve got my ADHD diagnosis, and I'm more comfortable in myself. I just feel like I owe so much to Barnardo’s because who knows what would have happened if Fiona wasn't there to support me?”
What prompted you to think about your Will?
“We just bought a house, and we don't have kids, so we know there's going to be something left. And we just thought, Barnardo’s offer a free service and you can do it online, why not?
Anything could happen at any time, and I know first-hand that the amazing people who work and volunteer for Barnardo’s need resources to be able to do what they do.”
What impact would you like your legacy to have?
“I want for any young person who goes to Barnardo’s to be able to be supported. I couldn't imagine a situation where a young person does that, but then Barnardo’s doesn't have enough money or resources and it has to close that local office or turn that young person away.
Barnardo’s is such a good organisation and I’m so grateful to them for saving me, but I also want to help other young people who need support from Barnardo’s for all the other different kinds of issues, not just situations like mine.”
What would you say to other people who are thinking about writing their Wills?
“I think you definitely should write at least a basic will to start with because you never know what might happen in the future, even if you don't own a house. I also think you should consider leaving a gift in your will to charity. There are so many young people who need help – when I was that age, I was so low in confidence, I was so impressionable, and I got in situations where I was with bad people who I know didn't respect or care about me. My life could have so easily turned out differently. "