‘Spiralling out of control’ – one person’s testimony to the work of the Debt Strand at The Crossway

balance sheet no debtI am 38 years old and I was in debt from approximately the age of 21, but I was in control of it until a few years ago.

I can’t really say what the reason was for being in debt so much, but I kept putting it down to my past. This really wasn’t true, but it was a good smoke screen to hide behind. I was just addicted to spending and the feeling it gave me, having new clothes and what people said to me when I was wearing them. Going out for food and buying people presents.

When I was upset at work I would go shopping. And being a teacher at a school in a deprived area, I was always buying the children gifts, shoes or trainers, even a prom dress for one of the girls in Year 6 as she didn’t want to go as her mother couldn’t afford any clothes for her to wear to it.

I had been with the debt counselling service Step Change for a few years, but I was still taking out pay day loans and even more to pay the other pay day loans off. It was spiralling out of control, though I was still ignorant of this and Step Change weren’t prepared to add any more debts to my account. I was lying to my partner of three years about it, pretending everything was alright and  that I had no loans out with any pay day lenders.

Eventually my partner found out so I opened up to him about all the debt. He knew I was with Step Change, but thought I was going to be debt free by February 2013. But I had taken out so many more debts, it would be a year later before I would be debt free, but only if I stopped getting any more loans.

This tore us apart and he decided he couldn’t be with someone who lied to him, understandably, but he wasn’t willing to see me just out on the streets or back with my parents. He wanted to help me.

The Crossway Front DoorHe is a regular at St Johns and knew about The Crossway. He gave me the number and I called to book an appointment. They were very kind and wanted to see me as soon as possible. My partner came with me and we sat down and talked about the debt and what it was doing to us and started to talk about how we were going to get through it.

They thought it would be a good idea to go to my doctors and ask to be referred to counselling as this was an addiction and I needed more help than they could give me to get through it.

I was seen by my doctor and  was referred  for counselling, but by the time they sent me an appointment I had managed to get myself out of debt and they thought they couldn’t help me anyway.

At The Crossway, I made another appointment, this time alone, to go through my debts in detail. During the meeting it was made very clear to me the terms and conditions of them helping me, I had to cancel any agreement with Step Change and I could not take out any more loans.

I gave my bank card to my partner and every month I gave in my bank statement to The Crossway, which was analysed and my adviser sent me a letter back, giving a brief outline of out goings and in comings.  A few things I was buying were questioned, but it was never intrusive.

The Debt strand receptionWhen I was meeting with The Crossway team, I was made to feel safe and was assured that everything was confidential and it was a relief that the end was in sight. I was kept up to date with any debts that had been paid off, any problems that were occurring with pay day loans, and regularly complimented on how well I was doing.  Nobody was ever patronising, and I was never made to feel that I couldn’t do it.

In May 2014 I was out of debt. It was a struggle, but I could not have done it without the support of my partner and the team at The Crossway. I still have a small hill to climb, as I need to budget my monthly outgoings, and restrain from spending too much when I get paid. I am back with my partner and we are going from strength to strength.

Thank you all at The Crossway.








7th May 2015 Posted in: News, St John's Stories by Stella Jennings 0

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