Alan Barnes: Disabled pensioner struggling to settle into house bought with public donations

The 67-year-old was mugged outside his home, sparking outpouring of support

Click to follow
The Independent Online

The disabled pensioner who was able to buy a new house with money raised by the public after he was mugged has said he is struggling to adapt to the home.

Alan Barnes, 67, was left too afraid to return to his house in Low Fell, Gateshead, after he was attacked while moving is wheelie bin in January.

Richard Gatiss, who has since been jailed, knocked his victim to the ground and searched him for cash, before leaving him with a broken collarbone.

With 21-year old Katie Cutler's help, Mr Barnes raised enough money to buy a new home in Low Fell, Tyne and Wear

News of the attack, in January, sparked a fundraising campaign for Mr Barnes, who is just 4ft 6in tall and visually impaired.

Within weeks, it raised more than £330,000 and he used half the amount to buy a new two-bedroom terraced house in a different part of Low Fell.

He spoke of his joy at moving in last month, saying it felt like a “fairytale”, but is having difficulty to adjust after the unprecedented level of publicity.

Mr Barnes told the Newcastle Chronicle that the house was better than his previous home but he was not sure whether he would be staying.

More than £330,000 was raised for Mr Barnes with donations from around the world

“I'm just not bonding to it," he added. "Everyone keeps asking me if I've settled in but I'm not going to lie.”

He said he does feel safer in the house than he did in his old bungalow, which was part of a complex for elderly and disabled people.

Mr Barnes said he is now treated as something of a celebrity on his regular walks around Low Fell, being stopped by members of the public for a chat and the occasional selfie.

“I do feel safe walking around. But I’m not keen on getting handshakes off men. It has made me a bit wary,” he added.

“I would like to get out more and go to more places. After going to London I would like to go to more churches around the country and meet other people."

Alan Barnes receives his cheque for £330,135 from Katie Cutler

Katie Cutler, a 21-year-old beautician from Gateshead, used the success of her fundraising appeal for Mr Barnes to launch her own charity.

The Katie Cutler Foundation raises money to help “less fortunate people through acts of kindness”, including providing a disabled mother with a motorised scooter.

Ms Cutler is currently trying to raise £1 million to help up to 20 people in need.

Additional reporting by PA