At Debt Free London, we’re here to help with people’s debts. But that doesn’t mean that we just ignore the rest of their situation. Jamie Thunder, a Debt Free London Trainee Debt Advisor, writes about how he's helping clients holistically.
Recently, I took a call to our freephone helpline from a young woman who had built up some debts that she didn’t know how to repay.
Early in the call, she mentioned that she had previously been in care. Care leavers are a group who can particularly struggle with money, because often no-one’s told them what bills they need to pay and how to pay them, before they start living independently. Understandably, that can lead to people not realising how important it is to pay priority debts like council tax or even rent.
I’m no expert in what rights care leavers have, or what support should get from their local authority. But there are other organisations that are. So I contacted Become (formerly the Who Cares? Trust), a charity that runs a free advice line for children in care and care leavers.
They called me back, and explained that this client might be eligible for some support – which could be practical, financial, or both (depending on the local authority’s policies). I passed on the details of the helpline to the client, who hadn’t known about this, and explained that we were still able to help, and that Become could also help with some of the bits that we can’t.
This client will now get help to deal with her debts from Debt Free London, but can also get advice from Become about her rights and entitlements as a care leaver. If we’d just thought about her money situation, we’d have missed a huge part of her circumstances, and wouldn’t have helped her as much as we could have.
By thinking a bit more widely about the client as a person, not just a collection of debts, we can have a wider impact on their lives – even if it’s not something that we at Debt Free London can directly help with.
We know that people with debt problems often have other things they need help with, whether it’s benefit applications, housing issues, or more uncommon situations like leaving care or addiction. We’re here to help anyone in London with their debts, and if there are things we can’t help with, we’ll do our best to find out who can.