Pauline suffers with a heart condition and asthma and Peter was not working as he was caring for Pauline. They first received help from the Fund in August 1997 in the form of a monthly grant and loan. They moved to Mill Hill Close from Lancashire in August 2000 and pay a low rent. Peter is now working. This is their story.
'Our problems began in 1996.
After a prolonged illness Pauline was given medical retirement, and I was given early retirement from Manchester City Council. We were stuck with a huge mortgage and negative equity on a big old rambling house - a hangover from days when we cared for lots of foster children - which was in need of major repairs. We had more going out than was coming in, and Pauline's health wouldn't have allowed any building work, even if we had the money.
I had always been perhaps more aware of the Benevolent Fund than most as my father had been a beneficiary of a similar fund at the then Institution of Municipal Engineers. So I always used to put a bit extra in, not ever thinking it would be for me.
We made contact in summer 1997 and within half an hour the wheels were in motion. The Fund immediately gave us £200 a month to keep us afloat while we tried to sell up. It took three years, and in the end we sold with £5,000 negative equity, loaned to us by the Fund against my life insurance.
We moved down in summer 2000 with some trepidation.
But our fears were so unfounded. The house was immaculate. There was even a plant and a welcome card.
The fear is that you are coming to an 'old age circuit', but it is not like that at all.
Increasingly younger people are coming here, and this has helped to form a real community spirit.
We can't say anything but positive things - it's like a whole new life opening up. I've even managed to establish my own highway design practice. It's ideal for working from home, and business has taken off to the extent that we now pay rent and can even afford to go on holiday for the first time in years.
I didn't realise how much I enjoyed working until I took retirement. It keeps my mind active, and keeps me in the industry. The Benevolent Fund has allowed me to keep doing it.'