We have been providing debt advice to local people for over six months now, and when I first came to work at the project, I was surprised at the need for debt advice in the area.
During these six months, our clients had a total of £161,956 debt between them and over 60% of this debt is what is classed as priority debt – which is a term we use for debts such as rent arrears, council tax arrears, utilities, court fines, etc.
Most people don’t realise the effect that having debt and not dealing with it can have on their well-being and mental health. In fact, many have said that once they started to address the issue they felt more in control and able to face the situation; making decisions about what they spent money on and generally felt more in control of their life.
When faced with debt people want to bury their head in the sand and hope that it will somehow magically disappear. Over time, however, it is realised that this is just not going to happen, and many people choose to ask for support.
Part of our process when working with the client is to inform them of their priority debt and agree a way forward that is best for them; this could be anything from setting up repayment plans to a debt relief order or bankruptcy. Although, from past experience, the approximate £700 fee for bankruptcy is usually not the way forward.
It is a privilege to be able to work alongside a great team and support those in our community who have somehow found themselves in a situation of being in debt.
The reward for me personally? When that person can see the light at the end of the tunnel, when the tears have turned to smiles and you feel you have made a difference.