I had always worked since I was young, but I had to leave my job in February 2017 due to health reasons. I’d had a lot of time off sick and eventually needed an operation, so for around 6 months or so, I didn’t work. For the first time in my life, I had to rely on state benefits. Before then, I had managed fine with my money. I couldn’t maintain the same lifestyle on Employment Support Allowance. For example, I couldn’t pay for my son to go on school trips, which was hard. For a month or so, I was able to survive by drawing on my savings. But after a while, I couldn’t make all the payments on my loans and credit cards. Eventually, I also fell into arrears on my council tax and other bills.
Creditors didn’t listen – they bombarded me with phone calls and letters asking for money. I feared they would turn up at the door.
When I phoned for help, they gave me a first appointment within just a few weeks, even though they were quite busy. They explained what would happen and told me to bring in all the paperwork about my debts. At the first meeting, I was quite nervous talking about my personal situation. I didn’t realise quite how much I owed until we sat down and calculated it. It took a couple of hours to go through it all. In total, I think it came to more than £12,000. But the team were really kind and made me feel at ease. They talked me through the options and said “Don’t worry, leave it to us. This is what we’re here for”. Using the information I had given they worked out what it would take to get a Debt Relief Order. They were able to answer all my questions about the process. Before I left, they offered to pray with me. I found that very touching. It showed that they cared for me as a person.
I walked away from that first meeting feeling much better.
After that, I had two more meetings with Riverside Money Advice and a few conversations on the phone. They took me through the process of applying for a Debt Relief Order. It really helped that we did it together, as I could see what they were doing, which helped me understand the process. This made the application very simple and easy. There was a fee of £90 to pay to apply for the Debt Relief Order, which I couldn’t afford. But I was delighted when Riverside Money Advice said they would cover it from the donations to their work. It felt such a relief.
Since the Debt Relief Order has come through, I’ve been able to make a fresh start. Having had the operation, I’ve returned to work, so I’m able to pay all the bills. Without the DRO, I’d have been trapped in a vicious circle, just working full-time to service the debts and not getting anywhere.
I’ve learned that if you want something, then you save up for it. Even when my son asks for something he wants, I’ve learned that sometimes I need to tell him to wait.
Although I don’t go to church, I’ve always been a Christian and I believe God has been there to guide me; there’s a reason I ended up at Riverside Money Advice! He helped me to find a way out of the situation and for that I give thanks.