‘I’d been addicted to drugs and alcohol for four years before I got support. I was working for the council but was dismissed on health grounds due to my depression and anxiety. The year before I was dismissed I went on statutory sick pay. I’m a single parent but I wasn’t claiming any benefits so when I was dismissed there was no money coming in. My mum had to help out even though she’s retired.
‘I started claiming benefits the next year but I wasn’t in the right head space to deal with things so my debts started to pile up and I wasn’t paying my rent. Eventually I was taken to court over rent arrears but the judge said I should be given a chance to claim benefits. I applied for a discretionary housing allowance which managed to clear my rent arrears and the court case was dropped.
‘When Covid happened I decided I was going to try to change and I managed to get clean by March 2020. I got some advice from Citizens Advice who put me in touch with the Law Centre. I was really nervous about having to go through all the paperwork but I knew I wanted to get better and be free of my debts.
‘The minute I made the phone call and spoke to Eva, she was so helpful. She did a breakdown of all my payments – there were some loans I couldn’t even remember taking out. I found it stressful but I did it with her help. We went from there and she explained everything step by step. Eva was so patient. Sometimes I wasn’t in the mood but she was lovely and so so helpful. Because she broke it all down for me, I could understand the plan ahead, and every time I received a letter, I sent it to her and she explained it all to me.
‘Her help changed my life completely. I had a massive weight on my shoulders because of my debts, and I was always worried about debt collectors turning up, but I don’t have to worry any more. My debts have been written off.
‘I still suffer from depression but I have never gone back to addiction. I used to use substances as a way of coping but because I don’t have to worry about my debts any more, my mood is much better. My son has really noticed the difference too so by helping me, he was helped as well.
‘I would recommend the Law Centre to anyone. I didn’t know you existed before, and I didn’t know you offer such support and input. You took it out of my hands. It was a great help. I felt like I was drowning before I got the support from you. Things are so much better now.’
Joanna* is a single mother with a teenage son. She suffers from mental health issues and turned to drugs and alcohol as a way of coping. She lost her job and ended up with a lot of debts, both priority and non-priority. Our money advice caseworkers have been helping her with getting her debts written off so she can get her life back on track. So far, over £23,600 in non-priority debts has been written off.
*not her real name