REAL STORIES

JULIA

Julia* became a Money Matters client at the end of 2013. When Julia was made redundant from her Head of Department role in 2011, her life started to unravel. Not long after the redundancy, her father passed away. Julia talks about the impact of losing a key member of her support system:

“I felt as if I had had a mental breakdown. My GP referred me to a psychiatrist and after many assessments, I was diagnosed with Bi-Polar Disorder.” 

Julia became desperate, struggling to cope with her mental health problems and her grief, all the while being the primary carer for her disabled son. As her life became increasingly dysfunctional, the formerly confident professional ran up significant credit card debt and secured several loans against her property to the point where unpaid mortgage arrears put her home at risk of repossession.

“My panic attacks were increasing and my anxiety and stress levels were at their worst. I couldn’t see myself ever returning to a normal life. The ongoing money worries were affecting my son’s health as well, and putting a strain on our relationship.” 

The Money Matters team supported Julia on her journey to regaining control of her life, performing a benefits check and helping her with the application process to access the right benefits for her situation.

At this point, Julia had also been diagnosed with Ménière’s Disease (affecting both her hearing and balance) and struggled to manage her condition unaided. Despite this, her application for Personal Independence Payment was declined. With our intervention, Julia launched an appeal and the decision was successfully overturned.

We carried out an evaluation of all of Julia’s finances and we found the only reasonable solution available for her, with £100k debt, was bankruptcy. Money Matters applied for a grant from the Severn Trent Trust Fund on Julia’s behalf to cover the costs of the bankruptcy application and court fees (around £700), which was granted and supported her through the bankruptcy application process.

The process of applying for bankruptcy itself can be quite stressful, and Money Matters undertook a lot of work to make that interim period between application and decision as manageable for Julia as possible, including negotiating with creditors to either accept token payments or none and forestalling full and final payment requests against her.

Much to Julia’s relief, her bankruptcy application was successful and her debt written off. She was given the opportunity to start her life afresh.

SALLY

Sally* had been working but was now on maternity leave as she was expecting her second baby soon, but was struggling while she waited for her maternity payments to start, and Sally’s health visitor had given her a Foodbank voucher to make sure that she didn’t go without in the meantime.

Sally, who is now on a much lower income, wasn’t aware that she could claim some help with her housing and council tax costs. We supported Sally to make her claim for housing benefit and council tax support online and booked her an appointment to take evidence along to the council. Sally is now in a better financial position and able to enjoy bringing up her new baby with less worry.

BILL

Bill* is one of many people that we see who for whom one thing added to another and built up into an unmanageable situation. At the time of his relationship breakdown, Bill was living in a two-bedroom social housing property – so that his children could visit him – with a number of household goods on hire purchase.

Bill subsequently lost his job and had to claim benefits. However as he was a single occupant in a two-bedroom property, he fell afoul of the ‘bedroom tax’ and received a deduction from his housing benefit owing to the spare bedroom. As a result, Bill could no longer meet his monthly commitments and his debts built up.

When Bill saw us at the Foodbank he said he had seen on the internet at the library that he could get help with his debts through another service, but that when he had registered his interest he had been asked for a contact telephone number. Unfortunately, by this stage Bill no longer had a phone as he had fallen behind on his payments.

We were able to contact Bill’s creditors to put a hold on his accounts whilst we carried out a financial evaluation. Once we had done this it became clear that the best option for Bill was to apply for a Debt Relief Order. We supported him to do this and as a result £12,000 of Bill’s debts were written off.  We helped Bill to maximise his income and to minimise his expenditure in order to keep on top of his priorities whilst he continued to look for work.

*  People do not want to be forever associated with the version of themselves when they were at their most vulnerable. We would never want to put stumbling blocks into the path of anybody’s moving forward with their lives with their head held high as they deserve. To that end, we change clients’ names where appropriate whilst still allowing their stories to inspire others. 

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