This is a true story, if we can help you in a similar way, please contact our Financial Responsibility Team.
My debt story started when I left a very bad relationship, after this I had a nervous breakdown and everything else got pushed aside including people I owed money to. After two years I moved into a Yarlington home because I was made homeless.
I wasn't able to cope with my debts just ignored them. Everyday my debt got worse; I would sit at home with the door locked and the curtains closed. It was unbearable; every time the post came I dreaded it and more letters went unopened.
Janet from The Financial Responsibility Team (FRT) initially came to advise me on how to sort out my rent arrears. She was very pleasant, but my pride holding me back and I told her I would sort it myself. Janet gave me details of the national debt line; I don’t think at this stage I was ready for help.
Janet then phoned me again and I agreed to a second visit. I had already started to pay a debt management company but still hadn’t sorted out the paperwork to send off to them and Janet offered to help me sort this.
I brought out 3 bags of unopened post and just broke down.
We tipped the bags onto the floor and Janet knelt down on the floor and began sorting them out. Gradually I felt able to join in and help. Janet rang all the most pressing companies for me to explain that I was seeking help and we were able to make some arrangements with them.
At this stage I was beginning to see light at the end of the tunnel and felt relieved. We started to file things away and get them in some sort of order.
Janet told me about the Citizens Advice Bureau (CAB), that they could help me in the same way as the debt management company for free, I agreed to an appointment.
Before Janet left that day she asked me if I felt able to open my curtains, I said yes and opened them to the sunshine, it felt good.
I went to the Citizens Advice Bureau and spoke to Kim Watts, who gave me a list of things to do. One of these was to open a new bank account. I organised all these things one at a time.
This was not all plain sailing; there were hiccups along the way. My housing benefit got suspended because proofs I had taken in couldn’t be found, but I dealt with it with the support of Janet and Kim. I agreed a payment to sort out my rent arrears and managed to stick to this, I made regular phone calls to Janet to make sure all was well. I made payments through the rent free weeks, which helped clear my arrears quicker. I received a letter that quoted my balance as £68.13; I had just paid £60 that day and wanted to check that was all I owed. Janet was delighted to confirm that £8.13 was the outstanding balance. At the highest point I had been £556 in arrears; my rent account is now in credit.
At my worse stage, I was hiding from my debt problems the threats in the debt letters kept me awake at night, stopped me eating, the worry was intense.
Now my debts are mostly sorted with payments arranged to them. There are still some little blips now and again but I am able to sort them, I am now planning to start saving.
I’m sure there are many people who are going through the same problems that I did with debt, you can get help and it’s never as bad as you think.
I would like to thank Janet, for being there and for being patient, compassionate and understanding. I will be eternally grateful. I’d also like to thank Kim at the Citizens Advice Bureau for her help, understanding and professionalism.