We need to talk about debt
Written by Kathryn Chin, Money Advisor
Working within the Money Advice team, you can see people at their lowest. Whether it be low income, benefit delays, sanctions, benefit cap or debt.
The link between debt, mental health and unfortunately suicide is becoming more highlighted recently and three cases have been brought to my attention in the media; a 20 year old, a 56 year old and lastly a 34 year old. These cases all have something in common, they were all male and did not seek any help with what started out as relatively ‘minor’ debts.
Now that is not to trivialise what they went through but highlighting if they had spoken to someone it could have helped them to realise they had other options. Having read their stories it was clear they felt they had no other choice. Bailiffs were involved, forced bankruptcy, threatening letters and knocks at the door. They felt trapped and embarrassed by their situation and, from what I can see, at no point was advice sought or offered.
This is why I commend Midland Heart for having my team as we can help our customers and staff to see there are other options and ways to deal with their financial woes.
Many times I have seen customers who leave post unopened as they do not want to admit to themselves the trouble they are in. The majority of the time the situation is not as bad as they originally thought. After their initial appointment, they often say things like ‘I feel a lot better after seeing and speaking with you.’
We receive an alarming amount of referrals with customers implying self-harm or worse due to debt. Last year alone we assisted customers with over £1.8 million worth of debt and helped write off over £770,000 and this year were have already seen over £167,000 worth of debt and helped to write off £46,000. (Figures correct up until August 2018).
It is at this point I would like to add debt can affect anyone and anytime. The three people mentioned in this article were all working and at different stages in life. Homeowners and fathers, and different situations triggered the downward spiral they found themselves in including divorce and gambling.
It is also this time of year where debts can increase, with it being the lead up to Christmas. Parents feel pressured to get the latest gadgets, utility bills increase, there could be a lack of work due to the weather, sickness and so many more factors. It is important we get our message across now, to try and prevent others from feeling it is their only option.
If you feel you are struggling at all with any financial concerns and want to discuss any issues then please contact the Money Advice team.
Failing that, there are external agencies who can help you, but all I ask is if you do personally relate to this article in anyway then please seek some form of assistance.
Remember that there are always options for you. There are some links below for external agencies we would recommend. There is also a link for the documentary ‘Killed by my Debt’ which follows 19 year old Jerome Rogers’ death. This is a true story and touches on a lot of sensitive subjects, so please bare this in mind whilst watching.