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Debt Free South West Launches

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Debt Free South West, a free advice service, launches with new website ready to support anyone in Bristol, Bath, Gloucestershire, North and South Somerset with rising debts due to COVID 19.

From 11 November, Debt Free South West is the new name for the leading independent free debt advice partnership in the South West.  Formerly Money Advice West, Debt Free South West is a partnership established in 2006 with the vision to help people who have money and debt problems and, along with their new name, have a brand-new website launching this ‘Talk Money Week’. Debt Free South West consists of 9 advice agencies across the South West, including Bristol, Bath, Gloucestershire, North and South Somerset and are available to offer expert and confidential support to help with money worries at this very challenging time.

Whilst continuing to offer face-to-face services with appropriate social distancing measures, thanks to a brand-new website and their high quality and trusted advice, supporting over 6,500 clients last year, they are available to help people with money and debt worries via phone, WhatsApp, web chat and video call so everyone can receive support safely during this current lockdown and beyond. 

Wider access to advice via a choice of digital platforms will be vital in tackling the increasing levels of debt that we’re seeing since the start of the pandemic. Citizens Advice, whose branches make up some of the Debt Free South West partners, estimate that 6 million UK adults have fallen behind on at least one household bill during the pandemic, in particular on essential costs with 3 million behind on their water bills, 2.8 million on their energy bills, 2.8 million on their council tax and 1.2 million on their rent.

The re-launch to Debt Free South West coincides with Talk Money Week, an annual campaign run by the Money and Pensions Service, to get the nation talking about managing their money. The goal of Talk Money Week is to turn talking about money from one of the UK’s least favourite topics into something commonplace.

The last few months have been extremely difficult and with a second national lockdown, financially, the worst is yet to come. In the weeks and months ahead, it's vital that communities not just here in the South West but across the UK are supported to tackle the impact of COVID-19. We must provide wider access to high quality advice delivered in a way that suits the client.

Drew Huskisson | Project Manager of Debt Free South West

We are delighted to welcome Debt Free South West to the Debt Free Family and are excited to work even more closely with them in the months and years ahead to ensure best practice is shared across our regions.

Matt Dronfield | Head of Debt Free London

If you or someone you know needs advice for their money worries in  Bristol, Bath, Gloucestershire, North or South Somerset, go to www.debtfreesouthwest.uk or call 0800 138 3422 and select the option for your nearest location so you can be routed to your local advice agency.

 

Notes to editors:
  1. Debt Free South West is a free advice service helping over 6,500 with their debt and money worries each year. The service is led by Talking Money, a charity and funded by the Money & Pensions Service.
  2. There are 9 advice charities funded to provide free advice under the Debt Free South West: Citizens Advice Bristol, Citizens Advice Bath & North East Somerset, Citizens Advice North Somerset, Citizens Advice South Somerset, GL Communities, North Bristol Advice Centre, South Bristol Advice Services, St Pauls Advice Centre and Talking Money.
  3. Talking Money was registered as a charity in February 1990. Set up by a group of volunteer legal professionals, they were originally known as ‘Bristol Debt Advice Centre’ (BDAC) and established as a response to the growing debt crisis in the city. They provide Debt Advice, Benefits Advice, Financial Education and Training and Consultancy. As a major provider of money advice in Bristol and South Gloucestershire, and as the lead agency for several partnerships, they play a vital role in making free, independent, confidential and professional advice available to people in financial difficulty.
  4. Talk Money Week (9-13 November 2020) is an annual public awareness campaign, run by the Money and Pensions Service, to get the nation having conversations about money. Talking about finances has been shown to help people make better informed and less risky financial decisions, feel less stressed or anxious and more in control, have stronger personal relationships, and help their children form good lifetime money habits.Talk Money Week is also an annual opportunity to celebrate the work organisations are doing to support the UK Strategy for Financial Wellbeing, launched by MaPS in January 2020, which has ambitious ten-year goals to help everyone make the most of their money and pensions. Join the conversation on social media at #TalkMoney.