This week, starting 20 March, is Debt Awareness Week and we know that many people are finding it harder than ever to pay the bills.
Debt can happen to anyone, and we know owing money can be very stressful. There are hundreds of reasons why people put off getting debt advice – some fear they’ll be judged, others bury their head in the sand and hope things will improve, and many simply aren’t aware that ClwydAlyn is here to offer help and advice to its residents.
Here Janice Peterson, Welfare Rights and Money Advice Officer, shares her thoughts on how she can help ClwydAlyn Residents by giving them impartial advice on how to face debt head on.
“It’s impossible to ignore the fact that the past few years has been difficult for many of us. No one could have anticipated the coronavirus situation and the war in Ukraine and how hard the financial impact would hit.
“These factors have led to the cost-of-living crisis which has affected us all, but undoubtedly there will be those who have been hit harder than others due to job losses or reduced hours, amongst other things. This often results in mounting financial pressure and increased debt.
“Due to soaring bills and the cost of everyday items increasing, the average adult’s personal debt discounting mortgages) in the UK had risen from £25,879 to £34,566 (£8,687) in 2022, with four in five adults revealing they started 2023 in debt, up from three in five in 2021.
“Sadly, this is still more often than not a subject that is off limits, with many people feeling embarrassed or even ashamed to mention it and tending to ‘bury their heads in the sand’ instead, which of course is the very opposite of what anyone should do when they find themselves in debt.”
It is important to be open with loved ones or a support network about your struggles with debt, as it is difficult to get through it alone, and there is help out there. Money worries are often linked to mental health struggles with many people saying that it leads them to experience depression, stress, or anxiety.
The first step to getting back on track is opening up. There is nothing to be ashamed of, anyone can get into debt for a variety of reasons, all that matters if you are struggling is to seek help.
Talk to someone you trust
They may be able to help you set up a budget or find out ways to increase income and reduce spending, as well as helping you to understand and deal with any letters. They can also be your supporter, so that you don’t have to go through it alone.
Tell your partner
If you are in a relationship, and it is safe, it is best to make sure your partner is also aware of the debt, as they are likely to know that something is wrong anyway. Keeping it from them can create more stress and strain on your relationship. Reassure them that you are dealing with the problem, making progress, and ask that they support you in the process going forwards.
Look after yourself
Debt can create a huge amount of stress, so it is important to look after yourself in other ways. Make sure you take time to go on walks and do things you enjoy with the people who are there to support you. Eat well, exercise, and rest – the most important way to look after your mental health.
“We are here to help you and it’s important that people know that you don’t have to suffer in silence. We know how quickly things can spiral out of control and the quicker you get in touch with us, the quicker we’ll be able to help you. Even if you don’t want to talk to anyone, there are many tools and options available to start resolving a debt problem and we’ve created a one stop shop that will help you manage your bills more effectively.”
“We are here for you and if you are facing difficulties with paying for things like your rent, please do get in touch with either your Housing Officer, or simply call us on 0800 1835757 or email at firstname.lastname@example.org and we’ll help you start your journey to debt free living.”
There are also many ways you can help yourself. From budgeting tools to expert advice from other sources, like the Money saving expert.
Other ways to get help
- Step Change have more than 25 years’ experience providing practical debt solutions
- Citizens Advice (previously Citizens Advice Bureau) are an independent organisation specialising in confidential advice on subjects like debt advice or managing your bills. They have their own online budgeting tool
- National Energy Action is the national charity working to end fuel poverty in England, Wales and Northern Ireland. They can provide advice and up to date information about rising energy prices
- Money saving expert has lots of advice and tools, as well as news and information on a range of subjects that could help your decision making
- Debt advice line is a government approved helpline for tackling your debt.
You can also visit our Rising cost of living page for more tips and advice.