Twilight revisited: Life is tough, but this family is now getting back on track

Plight: We highlighted the situation of Greg's family as part of our investigation
Plight: We highlighted the situation of Greg's family as part of our investigation
Share this article
Have your say

During the Twilight series last year, Evening Post investigative reporter AASMA DAY talked to a family forced to flee their home because of domestic violence and had to rely on handouts to survive.

A year on she finds out how they are finally building a new life.

Coping with the realisation that the woman he had once loved had tried to kill him was one of the hardest things Greg had ever experienced.

Little did he know that the worse was yet to come as he and his three children were moved from their home in Greater Manchester for their own safety to rent a new place in Preston.

However, their new start was riddled with problems as a mix-up with benefits left them struggling financially and disabled Greg was forced to swallow his pride and go to the Salvation Army in Preston to get food parcels so his family could eat.

Twelve months on, Greg reveals that the benefits issues are finally beginning to be resolved and is brimming with pride at how his children are succeeding in carving out new lives for themselves.

And in a twist which shows how they have come full circle, Greg tells us how he took a batch of food into the Salvation Army to donate to others in need in recognition of the help he and his family received when they were at their lowest ebb.

Greg, 45, explains: “The benefits issue has still not been fully resolved but I finally got my disability allowance back which made things less of a struggle.

“As soon as I got this money, I went to a cash and carry and bought a bulk of food and I went to the Salvation Army in Preston and donated it to them.

“I also bought some chocolates for the volunteers to thank them for the kindness they showed us.

“To me, you have to give back what you got and I really wanted to give something back to the Salvation Army.

“The Salvation Army provide such a great service and the people who work there are so caring and dedicated.

“They kept me and my family going when we needed it most. We couldn’t have survived without them.”

Greg’s turmoil began after his wife of 15 years suddenly underwent a personality change after suffering a car accident.

Greg remembers: “She only suffered whiplash but her personality and mentality changed completely afterwards.

“She became vicious, nasty and threatening and I became a victim of domestic violence.

“She would hit me, kick me, throw things at me and was physically and verbally abusive.”

The final straw came for Greg after his wife tried to strangle him as he sat on a chair.

He managed to wrestle himself free from her grasp, but he knew he and the children needed to get away from her as they felt they were in danger.

When Greg met his wife, she already had two children, Naomi, now 25 and Anthony, 20, but Greg bought them up as his own and, in his mind, they are his children.

The couple then had a daughter together, Lisa, who is now 18.

All three children wanted to leave Manchester with Greg and start a new life in Preston.

However, trying to change his benefits to his new address proved a nightmare and they suddenly found themselves without any money.

At first, Greg tried to survive by buying the cheapest food possible such as a sacks of potatoes and cans of beans, but soon they didn’t even have enough money for this and were referred to the Salvation Army for a food parcel.

Greg says: “I never ever imagined I would ever be in the situation where I would be forced to ask for food.

“But I had to make sure my family didn’t starve so I had to swallow my pride and go to the Salvation Army.

“Everyone there was so kind and as well as giving us food parcels, they told us about their soup kitchen where we received a two-course hot meal which was very nice.”

Greg is disabled as he has a back injury and mobility problems and has nerve damage and is also diabetic.

He explains: “My condition has worsened a lot in the last year. I have had a scan done on my back and it showed I had a fractured vertebrae but they cannot do anything about it.

“I cannot walk very far and rarely leave the house.

“I also have nerve damage in both my hands and I have paralysis in one of my fingers and two of my fingers are stuck together.

“I was on benefits when I was living with my wife but when me and the children moved to Preston, there was a major mix-up and our benefits did not migrate over as they should have done.

“It has been a real battle to try to get the situation sorted and it has taken more than a year and things are still not sorted. As far their computers were concerned, I didn’t even exist for seven months.

“I have been to various tribunals and I have finally got my mobility allowance back.”

Greg says life is a lot better for the family than it was 12 months ago and he is happy in the knowledge his children are doing well for themselves and have built a successful life for themselves in Preston.

Naomi, 25, is working as a veterinary nurse and son Anthony, 20, is in his second year studying motor vehicles at Myerscough College and has been chosen to train at race circuits in various countries.

Youngest daughter Lisa, 18, is studying childcare at 
Preston’s College.

Greg says: “I still have to borrow money and I still have to pay people back but life is a lot better than it was.

“Things did get worse before they got better.

“We have no contact with my ex-wife and the children do not want to know her.

“It does play on my mind and I am scared to leave the house in case she finds me. It is always at the back of my mind that she might turn up one day.

“If it wasn’t for the Salvation Army, we could not have coped during such a difficult time.

“For me, the main thing is that the children are doing well and moving forward with their lives.

“I do not care about myself. As long as they are all right, that is all that matters.

“We are a very close family and are happy in our new home in Preston away from all the fear.”

• Names have been changed to protect identities.

A year on from our shocking investigation into those living on the edge in Lancashire, we will be looking back at what has changed in the Lancashire Evening Post, every day this week - Pick up a copy or subscribe here.

Look back at the Twilight series here