Dear Sir,

As my children grew up I had three jobs; 2 nights a week as a Paediatric Cardiology nurse at Freeman Hospital in Newcastle, for 30 years, before and after school childminding and I cleaned the local church to keep the family going as I was a single parent.

For the last three years of my working life I was off sick 6 months of each year due to severe back pain. I was only 47 years old and I had to fight for an NHS pension for 8 months as someone in Preston, Lancashire decided my back condition wasn’t permanent enough so then I had to pay £75 for x-rays before I was allowed to claim it.

Going from a nurse’s wage to existing on benefits was awful and I have been on anti-depressants since then.

I eventually had a Spinal Fusion in 2009, leaving me with a plate and two screws at either side of my spine as well as different pain and mobility problems.

I had to go bankrupt due to my son’s drug addiction in 2011 and moved to Newton Aycliffe in 2012 to be nearer my daughter. I was lucky enough to get a one bed bungalow, but there were no carpets, fridge, cooker or washing machine in it. I had to keep my milk in a bucket of cold water, changing it twice a day, to try to keep it fresh.

I lived on microwave meals and ended up going to bed at 3pm every day as I couldn’t afford to heat the house and with no carpets the house was really cold, so this increased my back pain causing spasms, due to the cold. I moved in October so the weather was quite cold at that time of year.

My friend, Pat, from the Scottish Borders, knew about my situation and sent me a text message telling me about the Turn2us website, well I was amazed as there are 100,000s of funders on there waiting to help people in my situation.

I was able to find a funder who bought me a fridge, another bought me a cooker and carpets, another gave me a washing machine, another gave me a grant twice a year to pay my gas and electric bills, which enables me to keep the house warm so reducing my back spasms.

Another funder paid for my TV licence, telephone and broadband for a year, another gave me a grant four times a year and I needed a memory foam mattress to reduce my back pain and another funder got that for me.

I believe that councils and housing associations should adopt a scheme to leave carpets, blinds, washing machines, fridges and cookers, if they are in a decent condition, to help the new tenants moving in.

I will always be extremely grateful to Turn2us for the amazing help I received when I moved house, at a time when my financial situation was awful.

Since then my situation has greatly improved due to having the white goods I received and because of the help Turn2us gave me, I have been able to help families in Newton Aycliffe, who are struggling on low-incomes, or fleeing domestic violence, get furniture, white goods, carpets, blinds and curtains.

I will always help to promote Turn2us as the work they do is amazing. This white goods appeal to councils and housing associations is a very good idea and will help lots of low-income families in the future if the councils and housing associations adopt this policy.

Sheena Stephenson