Malcolm's* Story


Malcolm is vulnerable due to learning disabilities. During lockdown, he was one of those who ‘slipped through the net’ – and it nearly killed him.

When Malcolm’s mum died a few years back, he wasn’t placed under care as it was deemed he could manage.  Generally, he did – until the pandemic arrived.

His social lifeline was volunteering at a local charity shop several times a week. But when lockdown came, the shop had to close.

Several months later, when it was allowed to reopen, Malcolm did not reappear.

The charity shop team began to worry about him. They couldn’t phone him as he had no phone. So Julia, one of the volunteers and a former Reach client, went round to his house.

She was shocked at the state she found him in. The house was in darkness, the sink full of unwashed crockery. Malcolm was unkempt, suffering badly from depression and needed medical attention. Because he had understood that during lockdown he wasn’t to leave the house except to buy food, he didn’t think he was allowed to go to the bank. So he had run out of money – and food.

He hadn’t eaten in five days.

We don’t like to think what might have happened to Malcolm, had Julia not gone round that day.

Fortunately Julia contacted us for help.

We got a foodbox to Malcolm straight away and Julia cooked him a meal. He bolted it down – when he finished he said he felt like a beached whale, he’d not eaten so much in so long! Julia also got the doctor out to see him. We bought Malcolm a prepaid mobile phone, one designed for people with learning disabilities. There is an emergency button on the back which, when pressed, rings a designated contact, so now he can always get help.

Malcolm is still nervous about going out, so now Julia gets his benefits money for him, does his shopping and helps clean his home. We give her a little money to cover her extra petrol costs expenses. Malcolm is so much better and looks forward to the time when he can go back to volunteering at the charity shop.

It’s vital that Reach is there to help those vulnerable people like Malcolm – whilst lots of state support was put in place to help people impacted by the pandemic, there are those who still fall through the net.

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pete Belle
Colleen Malcolm
*Client name and details changed to protect client's identity