3 Audio clip 2: John Avery
John Avery, a single parent of a teenage son and a daughter, lived on a council estate on the outskirts of Sheffield. He had been unemployed since the business he jointly ran went bankrupt. At the time of the interview, he had become the main carer for his ex-business partner, Mr Asghar, as well as for his children. His son had recently been the victim of a serious traffic accident and was being taught at home, still requiring hospital care.
John and Mr Asghar first met in 1982 through the antiques trade, and he described their friendship as close and based on trust and sharing what they have.
Mr Asghar had had diabetes for some years. At 75, some complications had set in, not helped by the effect of war wounds from the time he served with distinction in the British Army during the Second World War. He received nursing help from his doctor's surgery, but the day-to-day caring was carried out by John.
The men lived about half a mile from each other and John visited three times a day, with cream for his skin condition. He also helped him out with food and clothes shopping, and was on hand when there were crises. Like many other people from the Indian subcontinent, who had grown old in Sheffield, Mr Asghar was recruited directly to work in the steel industry. He was made redundant in 1984, after which he started trading in antiques. Mr Asghar had a brother, sister and son in England, but his closest relationship was with John, who described the relationship as like father and son.
John explained that he had taken up issues on Mr Asghar's behalf with Social Security and the Benefits Agency over the years. He managed to get him assessed for Disability Living Allowance and Attendance Allowance and also got him a washing machine and a cooker, after he applied for grants. All these things took time. It took him two years to get a handrail fitted in Mr Asghar's toilet, and it was eight years before Mr Asghar was deemed eligible for Attendance Allowance. He felt that this was all an unnecessarily difficult struggle, and had strong views about how the state should help people who have paid taxes during their lifetime, and how carers like him are saving the state money. As far as he was concerned, money wasn't a factor in his relationship with Mr Asghar:
It's a rare friendship we have, that's not heard of or maybe seen in this country. Nobody can understand it. You can't put a word on that sort of bond. I'm bond with him, not in a sexual way, or any other way. It's just on mutual respect, of what we've gone through the last eighteen years together.