Debt carries a stigma, and you may be embarrassed or ashamed. Please don’t be. The numbers of people in debt are much higher than you will realise and although it may feel at times completely hopeless, there is always something that can be done to start your journey to get out of debt. It is important to get a debt review or debt counselling. I totally admit that at the time I was embarassed about my position, but having come through it and made it to the other side, I can see that hiding my situation and not talking about it made it worse.
Realistically you will need to talk to people and get some advice. The first thing I would recommend doing is gathering all your paperwork together and trying to work out what you owe and to which companies. Whether you like an Excel Spreadsheet or pen and paper, try and put some figures together. If you are not good with numbers, perhaps you could ask a friend or relative to help you. There is a great free budget planner tool on the Money Advice Service website. You can also call them for free and impartial money advice on 0800 138 7777. Monday to Friday, 8am to 8pm and Saturday, 9am to 1pm (closed Sundays and Bank Holidays).
Understanding where you are at will help you move forward. If you feel that you cannot see a way out of the debt you are in or need some more information you may need more in depth advice and support. I was in contact with Christians Against Poverty (CAP) and they helped and supported me, right through until I was out of debt. I cannot recommend them highly enough. You do not have to be a Christian to access their services, and you can see what services are available in your area by visiting their website and entering your postcode or by calling .
I think I need more specialised advice
The following services can all help, including providing Debt Management solutions. They are all free and no one will judge you.
Christians Against Poverty – 01274 760 720
National Debtline – 0808 808 4000
Debt Advice Foundation – 0800 622 6151
Step Change Debt Charity – 0800 138 1111
PayPlan – 0800 280 2816
There are lots of organisations out there that call themselves Debt Counsellors or Advisors but who will charge you money. PLEASE don’t use them. All these resources are available to you free of charge. By accruing extra charges you are only making it harder for yourself to get out of debt.
Debt and mental health – how to get help
Being in debt can be overwhelming and scary. It is really important that you don’t bury your head in the sand and hope it goes away. It can have a very real and devastating effect on your mental health. If you are feeling overwhelmed and need to talk to someone in the short term here are some useful numbers:
Mind Infoline – 0300 123 3393 (weekdays 9am – 6pm)
Saneline – 0300 304 7000 (everyday 6pm-11pm)
Samaritans – 116 123 free from any phone (UK) – open 24 hours a day
If you don’t feel comfortable talking to someone, you can get help with your anxiety through online therapy.
If you are thinking about hurting yourself or someone else – please call 999.