Around 6 years ago, my abusive ex-partner went to prison and left me with several debts, including rent arrears, catalogues and credit cards – about £4,000 in all. I was a recovering heroin addict and living only on benefits, as I was unable to work. So I couldn’t afford to pay the debts and had to go without a lot of things. I became very unhappy and turned to alcohol, as well as feeling suicidal.
A previous client of Riverside Money Advice suggested that I contact them. I needed something to help me turn my life around, so I got in touch.
At the first meeting, we discussed all my debts and they went through the paperwork. They phoned my creditors whilst I was there. They also put in place a debt repayment plan and helped me set up a budget. We would then meet up about once a week or so. It was important to have this ongoing support, not just a one-off meeting. Not only did I need help with all the paperwork, I also needed the personal support that they offered. They didn’t rush me at all. Instead, they made me feel very comfortable and relaxed.
The team also managed to provide me with a cooker and a washing machine, which made a massive difference. Before that, I only had a microwave for cooking food.With the support from Riverside Money Advice, I gradually started paying off some of the debts, like the arrears on the water and electricity bills. The advisers also helped me when my case went to the court and afterwards, once I had been declared insolvent. Some of the debts were wiped out, such as the rent arrears, whilst I had to pay minimal amounts on some other debts. After that, I was able to become free of debt.
My insolvency ended last April, so I can now have a bank account again. Since then, I’ve moved away from Birmingham to start a new life and I’ve stayed out of debt. I’ve been to college and completed my Levels 1 and 2 in hairdressing and am working towards Level 3. I wouldn’t be where I am today without support from Riverside. So before I left Birmingham, I decided to give something back. I worked as a volunteer receptionist at Riverside House for a while.
When I can, I’ll also make a financial donation to Riverside, as I’m so grateful for all the support I received.
If I could go back in time, I’d tell myself never to get into debt again and to think first before taking on credit. I’d also be a lot less trusting of people, although I know that there are people in churches like Riverside that I can trust. My background is in the Church of England, so it was reassuring that Riverside Money Advice is a Christian organisation.
Being supported through this difficult time has certainly strengthened my faith in God; I know that only He offers the right way forward.