A CARER who was sacked and had her life ruined because she helped a 95-year-old woman in distress has been backed by 1,000 messages of public support.
Sue Angold, 52, was fired after bosses ruled she had broken health and safety rules when she went to the aid of the sobbing elderly lady.
The ex-nurse was called an “angel” by the family of the woman she found soaked in urine and lifted on to a commode.
Yet bosses ruled she should have left her where she was and sacked Sue, a former nurse and sheltered housing officer for more than 23 years.
As well as her job, she also lost her home which came with the position. She was left feeling suicidal when she failed to find another job because of the question mark over her name.
Now 1,000 people have signed a petition calling for her to be reinstated – it is expected to double over the next few weeks. She said: “I lost faith in everything. My life was in tatters just because I had tried to do the right thing and help a person in need. I felt like the world had gone mad. Who gets punished for being kind?
“At times I felt so low. I lost my children’s home and they were forced to move out. I wanted to end it all, but the messages of support have given me my faith in the world back. It means so much to me to know normal people are behind me.”
Sue’s troubles started when she responded to an emergency call in May 2010.
The warden, from Sutton, Surrey, said: “Her voice was hoarse from crying and she kept saying thank goodness someone had come to help her at last. She was in a terrible state. It was heartbreaking.”
The woman was soaked in urine and unable to get out of the wet chair. Sue rang the emergency response call centre and told them what had happened.
She then removed the woman’s wet clothing and washed her, restoring her dignity.
The woman, who had begged for help, called Sue an “angel” and thanked her. Shortly after, two carers arrived to take over and Sue left, pleased to have been able to help. Two days later she received a letter from her employers, Sutton Housing Partnership, to say she was being suspended from the emergency response team.
They accused her of breaching safety rules by lifting the woman instead of waiting for the carers. Sue was devastated but was convinced she would be cleared by an investigation. She continued working as a warden manager but three months later was called into the head office.
Bosses said she had misrepresented herself as a nurse and insisted the woman’s incontinence was not an emergency. Therefore Sue should not have intervened.
She was asked if she would do the same again. “I am an honest person and always have been so I told them I would. It is not in my nature to leave someone begging for help.” She was instantly dismissed from both roles as a warden and emergency response officer.
“I was escorted from the building. For a woman who has never ever been in trouble before it was frightening and humiliating.”
There was worse to come the next day when the single mother received an eviction order. “I had lived in the flat and paid rent for 20 years. I had raised my daughters there and it was their home too but it made no difference. They wanted us out. I couldn’t believe all this was happening because I had helped someone.”
Sue found lodgings but her daughters, Natalie, 23, and Sophie, 21, had to leave home and in the months that followed she struggled to find work.
“Employers were cautious when they heard why I had lost my job. It was like I had a mark over my name.” She appealed the decision at a tribunal for unfair dismissal last September but it was upheld. “That was my lowest ebb. I kept thinking they would see sense and then it was like another blow and I even started to question myself. Perhaps I had done something terrible.”
Sue admits she was suicidal as she struggled with bills and had to hide from bailiffs.
“I was like a different person. My daughters were worried that I would do something daft. They could see all my self-confidence had evaporated.” They came up with the idea of an e-petition to win back her job.
Sue said: “It’s given me a confidence boost to know others would have done the same. Every person has said they would do what I did and, even if I don’t get my job back, just to know the whole world hasn’t gone mad is reassuring.”
Sutton Housing Partnership said: “We have clear policies, procedures and training to support and guide staff when dealing with the elderly and vulnerable.
“These ensure our residents are protected and their well-being is maintained at all times. In this case there was a serious breach of these procedures and it was necessary to take action.”
Sue’s petition is at ipetitions.com/petition/justice4sueangold/