Yorkshire Housing’s Swale home improvement agency has helped a former Gurkha and his wife to rest well in Catterick Garrison after they were found to be sleeping on a mattress on the bedroom floor.
Former Gurkha Gajurman Rai, aged 74, joined the British Army in 1961 and fought for the country for nine years through the 1960s, serving in Malaysia, Borneo and Hong Kong before he demobbed in 1969.
Thanks to the national campaign highlighting the plight of the Gurkhas, headed and supported by actor Joanna Lumley, Mr Rai won the right to live in the UK, but he is not entitled to an Army pension. Mr Rai and his wife, Dhan Kumari, have lived in rented accommodation in Catterick Garrison since 2015.
The Gurkhas are Nepalese soldiers who are recruited annually into the British Army and have been for the last 200 years. Gurkhas are known to be fearless fighters in combat and carry with them the Khukri, a traditional curved sword that is said to have to taste blood each time it is drawn.
The couple’s story was highlighted by charity Community First Yorkshire who contacted Yorkshire Housing’s Swale home improvement agency to ask the team to visit the pair and see how they could help. Our home improvement agencies work with local authorities and partner agencies to help older homeowners, disabled people, those on low incomes and many others to retain their independence by doing works on their homes to enable them to stay there safe and comfortable.
Yorkshire Housing’s needs advice and support officer, Christine Potter, said because neither Mr Rai nor his wife could speak English, YH had to speak for them. Translation was provided by Tej Gaha, another ex-Gurka who also lives in the area. Christine said: “Mr Rai needed a new bed and a rice cooker. This might not seem like a big deal to you or me but rice is a part of their culture and it was important to them.
“The ex-forces support is managed through Community First Yorkshire, which aims to provide various items to help people in their day-to-day lives. In this case, that was a bed and a rice cooker. The Rais are very humble people who are on a low income and they can become quite isolated. To them this is significant. That is what these funds are meant to do – make a difference.”
The Rais received the items earlier this year and are delighted with their new belongings.