‘It started off with my rent. I changed jobs and the Council didn’t inform me I had to pay a top up amount so I got into debt with rent arrears. I didn’t find out until the arrears were over £2,000. By then I was in too deep and I couldn’t get myself out.
‘I went through depression and thought it would go away but I got deeper and deeper into it. I even tried to take my own life. I know what it’s like to hit rock bottom.
‘I found out I was pregnant with my daughter and by then I was more and more in debt. I was taken to court for possession of my property and spoke to the duty solicitor and he said he would help me. The council were planning on taking my property away the day my baby was due so the duty solicitor appealed because of my pregnancy.
‘He put me in touch with the money advice team at the Law Centre and they straightened out my debts. They went through everything with me and made me face up to my situation. I had to pay a certain amount of money towards my each month to stop the possession order. They also spoke to the council and applied for a DHP which paid off around £3,000 in rent arrears. This made a huge difference to me and my family. We’re now in a position where we can think about moving house – my partner suffers with mental health so living in a block doesn’t help with that.
‘Now we’re getting back on track and sorting things out. For example we’ve changed from a contract phone to a pay as you go phone which really helps. Things are so much better and I’ve found dealing with my debts so much easier. I’ve stopped burying my head in the sand and we’re even getting ahead of ourselves now.
‘The Law Centre has been absolutely brilliant throughout everything. I’ve had debt collectors at my door and they’ve talked me through it. When you’ve got someone banging at your door and you’ve got a small child and a partner with mental health difficulties, it’s a lot to take in, but they were there for me. When we were really down and didn’t have anything, they got me food parcels and food bank vouchers. I never thought that was something I would do but they made me see that things like that are there to help.
‘How can I thank them? The way they’ve helped us has turned our lives around. It’s helped me so much and is still helping. I’ve told everyone. People ask me how I got out of debt, so I tell them – these are the people.’
Nikki* had a number of debts that required urgent attention including high rent arrears, putting her at risk of losing her home. She is a full-time carer so is unable to work. Our crisis navigator successfully applied for a Discretionary Housing Payment on her behalf to clear her rent arrears, and a grant to put towards her Council Tax Arrears. She is now on full Council Tax Support so can use the money she was paying for her rent arrears to address her other payments.
*not her real name