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Find out about Salma - in her own words

Before I fell into debt, I had been a teacher for around 30 years and was working as an acting headteacher and special educational needs advisor. The job was secure and well paid, and I didn’t have any issues with meeting my financial commitments.

However, a few years ago, the school I worked at decided to undergo a restructuring process and I was suddenly made redundant alongside a large number of my colleagues.

I joined a supply agency, but straight away this meant that I was only being paid during term time, and it also meant that my salary halved. I tried so hard but it felt like I was spinning plates, and after I missed a mortgage payment one month, the plates dropped.

Salma found it hard to talk about her money worries

What followed was a really scary time for me. I didn’t feel able to tell anyone close to me because of a recent family bereavement and because my mum had her own health issues to be concerned about. I went into a spiral of worry and depression – it was the darkest time I’ve ever experienced. I didn’t feel able to face the threatening letters and phone calls I was getting from my creditors, and therefore I was missing out on vital information about my situation. I feel sick thinking about it even now.

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Referred to StepChange by her mortgage advisor

The school that I’d worked at before was in a deprived area, and we provided resources such as a food bank to many of the families whose children attended. One of the many organisations we signposted parents to was StepChange, but I’d never once considered that I might be eligible for help and advice for myself. When my mortgage provider referred me, I couldn’t believe I hadn’t thought about getting in touch. I was apprehensive about ringing up because I thought that the process might be challenging, but it turned out to not be quite as difficult as I thought.

Now there's light at the end of the tunnel

After going through all of my options and getting some breathing space, I decided to embark on a debt management plan. It feels like there’s light at the end of the tunnel and I can’t wait to pay back my debts and move on with my life.

Names have been changed.

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