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"Being in debt isn’t easy. You’re so anxious, and you feel like you can’t tell anybody about it, which makes it all the more stressful."
Because money was tight, Matt turned to payday loans to pay for essentials, but soon he was unable to keep up to date with his rent, falling into arrears.
"I want people to know that there’s help out there and that taking out extra credit isn’t the only option."
"Before switching to my current job, I worked at a coffee shop chain as a barista for around 8 years. Due to the nature of my job, my hours were variable, meaning that it was very hard to budget or plan ahead for big purchases. At one point, I took out a personal loan to help with a rent deposit, and other large expenses followed.
After a while, things started to get tight and I was struggling to keep on top of my credit commitments. I also slid into rent arrears.
"My initial reaction was panic, and I didn’t want to tell anyone about the situation I was in. I became reliant on payday loans and credit cards to get by, and had to research options for customers with a bad credit score. After some time passed, I let my partner and my dad know about my circumstances, and they paid off some of the loans to try and improve my credit score, but despite agreeing to pay them back £50 per month I was soon falling short after covering my household bills.
"I went back to taking out payday loans and things started to spiral again.
"My parents were getting increasingly worried about bailiff action and what the repercussions could be if my finances didn’t improve, and the situation was also taking a toll on my relationship with my partner. When I incurred a CCJ, suddenly everything felt a bit scarier.
"I was panicked about how to feed myself, couldn’t focus at work, and was worried about bailiffs turning up at my front door. I decided to get help, and that’s when I contacted StepChange."
"Embarking on my debt management plan with StepChange, I decided to look for a new job. I loved my role as a barista but I needed to move on to something more challenging.
"In addition to this, whilst I was employed there, the debt collection companies that I owed money to managed to get hold of the work phone number and would call the coffee shop all the time.
"Because I was a manager, I was really worried that the people I was responsible for would lose all respect for me if they answered one of these calls.
"My own manager pulled me aside and we had a conversation about my situation, and luckily he ended up being really understanding about my circumstances.
"I don’t mind being open about my situation but I would have preferred to be able to do it on my own terms, not through a debt collector calling my workplace. You’d never know when they were going to call, they’d do it at random times to try and catch me, which was really frustrating.
"It really depleted my motivation to go to work, which obviously wouldn’t have helped my financial situation."
"Since starting my new job, I’ve been a lot more open about my situation in an effort to help break down the stigma around debt throughout the organisation. The fact that we’re in a global pandemic where a lot of things have changed both in terms of money and mental health is a big thing for me.
"There’s 150 people that work with me, and as part of the leadership team I see a real opportunity to raise awareness and try and remove some of the stigma around money issues.
"I want people to know that there’s help out there and that taking out extra credit isn’t the only option.
"As a result of this, I’ve had some great conversations and even discovered that two of my colleagues are also StepChange clients. It was really nice to hear their stories and the success that they’ve had with their debt solution, showing the impact that StepChange can help with people’s lives.
"It’s a weird world to be part of at the moment, especially switching to working from home, but it’s given us time to work on opening up conversations with people and share stories about things that we’ve been going through.
"Without it my debts would have been far more detrimental to me, and the debt management plan has given me peace of mind and helped with my mental health. Getting help was a turning point for me but it also demonstrated to me that there can be a positive side to most things, and that my situation could be easily handled and managed.
"I can’t speak more highly of the help I received and I want to pass it on to others. I’m looking forward to finishing my debt solution and eventually buying a house in the not too distant future."