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Disability charity "back on track" after treasurer steals more than £200k and leaves 8p in savings account

PUBLISHED: 16:56 03 February 2018 | UPDATED: 17:01 03 February 2018

Chairman of DIAL Lowestoft and Waveney Margaret Oldham MBE. Photo: Mick Howes.

Chairman of DIAL Lowestoft and Waveney Margaret Oldham MBE. Photo: Mick Howes.

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A disability charity has praised the outpouring of community support which allowed it to rebuild after its treasurer stole more than £200,000.

Neil Payne was jailed for four and a half years. Photo: Suffolk PoliceNeil Payne was jailed for four and a half years. Photo: Suffolk Police

This time last year the future looked bleak for DIAL Lowestoft and Waveney.

Neil Payne left the charity on the brink of ruin after defrauding it of £212,639 and was sentenced to four-and-a half years.

In the aftermath of Payne’s actions, which left just 8p in the savings account, two staff members resigned fearing the charity would soon go under.

However, according to chairman Margaret Oldham the charity is now “back on track”.

Lowestoft and Waveney DIAL.Lowestoft and Waveney DIAL.

The 70-year-old said: “We were down for a while but we fought to remain with some of the trustees paying staff out of their own pocket.

“We are once again fully staffed and everything is A-OK.

“Local people have been wonderful. One man just walked into the office and handed me £100 – he said he had heard we were struggling.”

In December last year Mrs Oldham received the “most wonderful Christmas present” as a judge ordered Payne to pay £129,690 to the charity as compensation.

The money will help the charity continue to serve those in need.

DIAL offers free, impartial information and advice to disabled people across Waveney.

“We are the only organisation in the area which give a holistic approach”, said Mrs Oldham.

“We not only look at the benefits side, we ask how they are managing at home and offer support groups.”

She added: “Our helpline receives over 5,500 calls a year and we currently have 50 appeals on the go.”

The chairman has been working for disabled people within the community since she helped start the charity in 1986.

And now, with many disabled people facing the shift from Disability Living Allowance to the Personal Independence Payment the charity’s advice and guidance is still as vital as ever.

Mrs Oldham said: “It’s a very different benefit and quite a lot of people are missing out.”

In 2011 Mrs Oldham was made an MBE for her service.

She said: “I have a disability myself and have always been in favour of people standing up for themselves.”

For more information of the charity visit: www.lowestoftdial.co.uk

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