From Hiding Bills and Sleepless Nights to Seeing Light at the End of the Tunnel
I had been getting into debt and started to feel overwhelmed. I stopped answering my phone and put any letter... that looked like a bill into a drawer or the bin and wouldn't read them.
I started to feel ill and couldn't sleep properly from stress and worrying. Eventually I told my friend and she told me about Faithworks and the help they could offer. She sat me down and got me to write all the names of the companies I owed money to and gave her copies of the bills.
She phoned someone she knew at Faithworks and he came out and met with us. He went through all the bills - I owed thousands. He suggested how much I could realistically pay each month and still be able to live and keep current bills up to date. He was also able to advise me of a scheme with the water company that meant if I paid them a certain amount regularly for a period of time the rest of my outstanding bill would be cancelled.
My debt was not as bad as I thought and I was able to see a light at the end of the tunnel. I am now debt free, I have paid everything off and now the money I was paying extra for bills I am saving. So if something breaks I can afford to replace it. I was even able to afford to save for a special holiday, which once Covid has ended I can take. Best of all I now don't have sleepless nights and worry about debt."
What We Provide
Budget Coaching: We work alongside clients to help them understand the money they have coming in and where it is being spent. We also establish benefit eligibility; assist in creating a realistic budget; provide support to develop confidence in managing money; apply for grants; and signpost to other organisations for support, if needed, in other areas of life.
Debt Advice: We negotiate with creditors to implement debt solutions affordable for each client; apply for grants; establish benefits eligibility and work alongside the allocated Budget Coach.
Who Oversees Us
Faithworks CMA (Community Money Advice) is authorised and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority.
Where You Can Find Us
We have teams at our Food Bank/Life Centres at Wimborne, Blandford, Poole & Christchurch. We also have a team in Bournemouth.
We have three talented, part-time staff in our core team and more than thirty fabulous and hard working volunteers, without whom we simply couldn't operate - a huge thank you to all of them!
The most significant change over the last year has been the further development of Faithworks' Food Banks into Life Centres in Wimborne, Christchurch, Blandford and Poole. Each Life Centre provides access to free debt advice and budgeting support from the Faithworks' CMA team as well as a benefits check to ensure guests are receiving all they are eligible for.
In addition there is access to housing advice and a range of other free support including: cooking on a budget courses; confidence and resilience workshops; support for small business start-ups; mentoring and support with CV writing; preparing for interviews and finding work.
Financial Wellbeing Courses
The CMA team have put together a range of courses and sessions to help specific groups of people improve their financial wellbeing including:
- School assemblies to prepare students for independent living
- 3 week CAP (Christians Against Poverty) money courses
- Bespoke sessions for those escaping crisis
From Ill Health and Job Loss to Freedom From Fear and Debt
My husband had a full-time job and I was working four days a week. We both brought debt into the marriage but we were managing it so it wasn’t a problem. Then the unimaginable happened, our eldest daughter became very unwell aged 10 with mental health issues and my own health deteriorated resulting in me leaving my job to care for my daughter.
Living in rented accommodation it was normal for our rent to increase every 12 months. We tried to negotiate without success and had to find a new place to live, within our now extremely tight budget. This then was impacted further when our 0% interest credit card, came to an end, and due to our change in financial situation, we could not find another deal to transfer to. We quickly began to struggle to make all our financial commitments and began drowning in unmanageable debt.
Scared of what the future would hold and finding it difficult to talk to one another, let alone anyone else about the situation, I didn’t know where to turn. We had worked all our lives, and could not believe the situation we had found ourselves in. The council advised that debt was not a good enough reason to apply for the housing register and even if we did, we would be looking at a minimum of 6 years on the list.
A close friend revealed her debt story to me and the help and guidance she had received on her journey to become debt free. I couldn’t believe what I was hearing… it didn’t seem possible! But there was that little glimmer of hope… that if I took this step to speak out, swallow my pride and ask for help, there is a chance we may be ok. So when I met with my friend, I shared my story and she put me in contact with Faithworks CMA. There began our journey to becoming debt free, and only 12 months later here I am sharing our story with you. I can now happily say that we are completely debt free! If you had asked me a year ago I could never have imagined a way out of the darkness and fear of debt... and now we are free, with hope for the future.
2020 was obviously a strange and challenging year for everyone. Despite the lockdown and the restrictions it brought, our CMA teams were able to continue to offer valuable support online and over the phone to many of those who needed it.
Although working remotely has been difficult, there are numerous hope-filled accounts of people regaining control over their finances or even becoming debt free.
As we look ahead we know there will be further challenges as the furlough scheme and other temporary supports come to an end. However, we remain hopeful that with a strong team and good partnerships with our friends at Citizens Advice and CAP (Christians Against Poverty), we can continue to help people make a new start with their finances.
Team photo (left to right): Dawn Reed - FW CMA Volunteer Support; Claire Warner - CMA Client Support Lead; Becky Nixon - CMA Debt Advisor & Nick Bold