Don's story | Education Support
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Don's story

When retired teacher Don Fraser’s relationship broke down he became jobless and homeless overnight. After living in a Buddhist monastery for two months he found a new flat but couldn’t afford a washing machine. We provided him with a new washing machine to relieve some of the pressure he faced.

I found it very difficult to ask the Education Support Partnership for help. I’d never needed any organization’s financial help before. Now 65, I qualified as a teacher in 1977. I deliberately chose to work in some of the most challenging, inner city schools of London. I taught Drama in the London Boroughs of Brent and Camden becoming Head of Drama at Wembley High School, Head of Drama at Brondesbury and Kilburn High School and then taught Drama at South Camden Community School where I was Head of the Visual and Performing Arts Faculty administrating five departments. I also lectured in Drama at Middlesex University.

My teaching career has been interspersed with periods of acting, producing and directing. It was through my acting career that I decided to become a teacher. Aged 20, I was living in Holland and touring Europe with a theatre company. I met a Dutch teacher of English who invited me into his school. He had asked me to help his students with their English reading. I could see what a really purposeful activity this was so when 

I went back to England I trained as a teacher of Drama at Birmingham University. Contact with fresh young minds is what I love most about teaching.

Homeless and jobless

Overnight, after a relationship breakup, I became homeless and jobless. I had to move away from where I was living. I managed to find shelter for a couple of months at a Buddhist monastery and then I found a flat. It had a cooker and fridge but no washing machine. I’d never been without a washing machine before and couldn’t afford to buy one. I went to a local Citizens Advice Bureau where I was told about the Education Support Partnership. I had a look at their website and saw that grants could be made for specific purposes. So I applied for a grant to buy a machine and was successful. The process was very smooth.

Teachers have hard times too

Just because you’re a teacher doesn’t mean to say you can’t hit upon hard times. So for people who feel embarrassed about asking for charity, I urge them to try not to be. There are times in most of our lives when we need a helping hand from others. No one is an island. We’re all interconnected through our humanity and if we can help others, we do. But some of us need to accept that at times we have to receive as well as give. And receiving help is much harder than giving it. For me the hardest thing was swallowing my pride. I’d never been in that situation before. I’d never not been able to afford a washing machine. Yet after I applied for a grant with the Education Support and was successful I was so relieved and very grateful.

I’m so glad that Education Support exists and is able to help people in a similar situation to mine. I would urge anyone in need to get in touch if they need help. That’s what it’s there for and perhaps it’s karma for all the contributions that teachers and education workers make towards the children they teach and to young peoples lives in general.

How we can help you

Our confidential grants service is here to help you manage your financial and money worries to get you back on track when you are struggling.

If you are working in or retired from the education sector and are suffering financial problems caused by unemployment, ill health, sudden life events, bereavement or a personal injury we may be able to offer support.

Please visit our grants page to find out more and apply.