Twins surprise Sheffield housing officer who changed their lives

Sheffield Council housing officer Debbie Ramsden with the special cake given to her by the twins
Sheffield Council housing officer Debbie Ramsden with the special cake given to her by the twins
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Twins in Sheffield have thanked the housing officer who came to their aid after their mother left home when they were just 16.

Akeem and Kazem Balogun, now aged 25, have never forgotten Debbie Ramsden's kindness all those years ago.

In a heartwarming gesture, Akeem showed their everlasting gratitude by paying the Sheffield Council officer a surprise visit and presenting her with a specially-made cake.

Akeem told how when their mother, who suffered from mental health problems, left, Debbie helped find them a smaller, more suitable home and ensured they got the support they needed from social workers.

The brothers are now doing well, but without her looking out for them in their hour of need, he said things could have turned out very differently.

"Things were really hard. We were just 16 at the time when my mum left and we were having problems when we met Debbie," said Akeem.

"We didn't want to be taken into care and she was determined to make sure we got into a decent property and that we got a social worker to make sure we got the help we needed.

"She helped us a lot. It was a big deal. My brother and I have always wanted to thank her – if she hadn’t helped out things could have turned out quite differently.

"It was lovely to see Debbie. She hasn’t aged but looks a lot smaller than I remember. I’ve got a permanent to-do list and having this cake made and thanking Debbie has been on it for as long as I remember."

Debbie had stayed in touch with the twins to ensure they were doing OK after they moved home.

But before this month she had not seen them for years, so Akeem's visit came as a huge and very welcome surprise.

"I recognised Akeem straight away but he seemed so tall!" she said.

"He’s grown up into a lovely, really well-grounded man and it’s great to hear how well he and his brother are doing. This doesn’t always happen."

Sheffield Council says its new 'Housing +' service means neighbourhood officers now have a patch of properties to manage where they will help council tenants with a range of issues, meaning more people should benefit from the kind of support Debbie gave the twins.

Councillor Jayne Dunn, Sheffield Council's cabinet member for housing, said: "Debbie has done a fantastic job and it’s lovely to hear that she has made a real difference to these young men’s lives. We care about our tenants and want the best for them. I’m proud council officers have made a difference."

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