It started out like any other Saturday afternoon as family man William Lusmore got in the car to watch the football with his brother-in-laws. But, devastatingly, this particular Saturday around 10 years ago was quite unlike any other.
Triggered by a sudden jolt of his head, William’s main vein in his neck haemorrhaged causing a stroke serious enough to keep him hospital-bound for up to nine weeks. The scaffolder was left registered blind by the unexpected sequence of events as he spent the next three years in rehab recovering from the trauma and trying to rebuild his life. Forced to give up his beloved career, the 55-year-old then suffered more life-changing news just three years ago when he was diagnosed with dementia.
Seemingly undeterred by what life has thrown at him, the father-of-four is now using his experiences to shape the impact he has in the South Gloucestershire community he grew up in. Training as a Dementia Friend, he then worked with an NHS dementia charity to help them design and launch a new website. And William has also been instrumental in setting up a young person’s dementia group in nearby Thornbury which meets every six months and provides advice and guidance in the local area.
Around the same time as his dementia diagnosis he became an involved customer at Merlin, which has recently joined in partnership with Bromford to create a new organisation with around 40,000 homes across central England and the South West. Aided by his trusty diary which helps him keep track of his busy schedule, William attends regular meetings and group discussions to help the housing association improve its services for customers.
“Getting involved with Merlin and now Bromford has given me the opportunity to really give customers a voice and tell them how important I think it is for housing associations to show compassion,” William explains.
“It is real lives we are talking about here and it is people living in homes, each with a different story, rather than houses. I really enjoy it and I think my background in scaffolding has given me the perfect opportunity to get involved and share my experiences.”
With Bromford’s neighbourhood coaching approach set to be rolled out across South Gloucestershire by the end of the year, William and his close-knit family are excited about the benefits it could bring.
“My wife has family who used to work for Bromford in Worcestershire and to tell you the truth they haven’t had a bad word to say. I think the frontline colleagues do such a fantastic job anyway and having them even more visible in our communities is really exciting,” he added.
Delphine Guillemoteau, customer involvement officer at Bromford, said: “William has learnt a lot through being an involved customer but crucially we have learnt so much from him and his inspiring story. He doesn’t go anywhere without his diary and often I write the future meetings in there for him so he can keep track – we’d love more William’s to come forward so that we remain on track in forming the right kind of relationships with our customers.”