Charity Number: 1197493

Debt Awareness Week 2023

A recent survey of our clients revealed that 60% of people who came to our Foodbank had borrowed money to pay for essentials such as food, toiletries and clothing. This is a particularly worrying statistic because it means that people living on a low income are being forced into debt just to get by.

As the cost-of-living crisis continues and more people struggle to pay their monthly bills, Debt Awareness Week is an opportunity to put out the message that debt issues can happen to anyone.

Debt problems are often caused by other difficult and unexpected life events. Linda* who shared her story with us, described how a relationship breakdown, a bereavement and ill health all contributed to her being unable to work. As her financial situation worsened, she felt she had no choice but to take out a loan. The debt repayments became such a burden that the only way she could manage financially was to leave the home that she loved and move to a smaller property, which in turn led to a sharp decline in her mental health.

One of our Support Workers met Linda at a Foodbank and put her in touch with CAP, a debt advice charity, who set up a Debt Relief Order to help clear her debts. ”That has taken a huge weight off my shoulders, not having to worry about bailiffs on the door.”, says Linda.

Our aim is to encourage people to seek help with their debt before they reach crisis point. People frequently struggle on for too long before getting debt advice, by which time their financial situation has usually got much worse.

One of the barriers to accessing debt advice is not knowing where to go for help. That is why we have produced our ‘Worrying about Money’ leaflets, with information on a wide range of organisations that can help people in times of need. Both CAP and Citizens Advice offer free face-to-face debt advice, whilst StepChange can provide this support over the phone. Many housing associations also offer free debt and money advice to their tenants, so there is no need to go to a commercial debt management company.

As Linda rightly points out, there is no shame in asking for help when you need it. For her, the support she has received with her debt problems has been life-saving. Having been suicidal when she first came to the Foodbank, she is starting to believe that she can make it through: ”There is hope now, whereas before there wasn’t.”

If you are struggling financially and need information or support please see below:

Worrying about Money: goodcompany.org.uk/need-help/

CAP: capuk.org/get-help/help-with-money-and-debt

Citizens Advice Epsom & Ewell: caee.org.uk/

Citizens Advice Mole Valley: citizensadvicemolevalley.org.uk/

Citizens Advice Reigate & Banstead: carbs.org.uk/

StepChange: stepchange.org/

 

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