Money Lifeline have provided a periodical update on the debt advice service they provide in Basingstoke with the support of local churches.
‘Money Lifeline have turned my life around, I cannot thank them enough’
‘Words cannot express how grateful I am for everything ML have done for me’
‘Without the help I received, I honestly do not know where I would be today’
‘Money Lifeline have been more than supportive, recommend to anyone’
‘I was surprised that I wasn’t judged, as I thought I might have been. I’ve found the advice and support very helpful and useful’
‘A wonderful service’
‘Fantastic support, amazing people, great help, understanding, no judgement – without their help I would not have gone from sobbing my heart out to how I am today’
Welcome to our periodical update on the work of Money Lifeline the local debt advice service supported by local churches. The quotes above are recent comments from some of our clients and hopefully show how much the service you support is appreciated. It’s now 12 years since Money Lifeline opened its doors and began providing debt advice. Since then we have worked with over 600 individuals and couples to show them the love of Christ by helping them find a way through the deep distress and misery that money worries bring. We thank God for the ministry He has given us and for the faithful support from local Christians and churches.
A reminder of what do we do
Money Lifeline helps people who have debts they cannot cope with on their own, by providing a free, face to face, confidential debt advice service to anyone who needs it. As a Christian debt advice service we aim to give clients the time and love required to really understand them and their problems and to help them with the impact on their personal lives, as well as the hard figures. Where clients are interested, we pray with them and share our Christian faith with them. All our volunteers are trained debt advisers and thus able to give the necessary help.
We help people understand their finances, draw up an affordable budget, assist in claiming the right benefits, negotiate with creditors and bailiffs, accompany clients to court hearings and, as appropriate, agree affordable repayment plans or other debt solutions such as debt relief orders or bankruptcy. The aim is to take the stress away, enable people to reclaim control of their lives, to get out (and stay out) of debt.
Money Lifeline is affiliated to Community Money Advice (a national Christian charity) and we are registered with the Charity Commission and the Information Commissioner. Most importantly we are authorised and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority.
Who do we help?
There is no typical client: everyone is different but all are hurting and anxious. But over the last few years we’ve seen that generally people’s debts are greater, more complex and more urgent. We tend to attract clients who need more intensive, long term support than cannot be managed in a fixed number of meetings: we’re always happy to go the extra mile. To bring things into a little more focus, let me tell you about three clients we dealt with in the last week (names and details have been changed):
We’ve been working with Stella and her partner Eric for a couple of months. They are a lovely pair of young people who are a delight to meet. Stella has mental health problems but both she and Eric are working: they can pay their way going forward but she built up over £20,000 in debts when her mental health was poor: much of this is interest and charges. We were able to stop the creditors calling and contacting them but were initially in a quandary about how best to progress as Stella couldn’t afford to repay the debt and she couldn’t afford to go bankrupt. We spent a long time explaining the situation to her biggest creditor: we pointed out her mental health problems and how loans had been made irresponsibly without checking that Stella could afford the repayments. Stella is delighted that in the last month, the creditor has agreed to forgive £16,000 of debt meaning that we can implement an affordable plan for the rest so that she and Eric can get on with life. We thank God for this about turn in the couple’s circumstances.
William and Winnie attend a local church, they came to us having previously arranged an IVA with a national company. Shortly after this 5 year plan started, it was clear that it was unaffordable so the IVA failed – and the creditors began demanding money again. After detailed investigation and negotiation, we were able to arrange Debt Relief Orders for them both meaning that for the first time in around 10 years they are debt free. William is working fulltime and having set an affordable budget with us, they are able to manage – but they would never have been able to pay off these old debts and keep their home without unbiased independent help and advice.
We first saw Delilah last month. A crisis was overwhelming her and her husband and three young children. Delilah had an addiction problem and had run up very big debts without her husband knowing: she’d lost her job because of the addiction and the family home looked in danger. The family rallied round and brought Delilah to us. She is facing up to the problems in her life and is deeply ashamed of her behaviour. Because she is getting help with her debts and the addiction, her husband is standing by her. She’s been able to get a new well paid job and we have agreed an affordable repayment plan with her creditors. They will freeze interest and charges as long as she keeps to the agreed payments. It will take some years for Delilah to become debt free but this is right way for Delilah and her family. Please pray that this family will know God’s blessing as they address their problems.
I hope these stories illustrate what we are trying to do – to help people as individuals, and minister to their whole needs. The vast majority of our clients are deeply concerned at their plight and want to be free of their debt. And in most cases, we are able to provide real and immediate assistance in reducing the stress and anxiety – and find a way to move forward. We know our service is frequently seen as a real lifeline and we pleased that the statutory agencies have the confidence to send their clients to a Christian organisation to get the help they need.
Here’s a client’s story (in their own words) that she has given us permission to share:
Shortly after returning to work, I found myself in an impossible financial predicament. I was living in an extremely high-rent property on a very low hourly rate of pay. Crippled by the bedroom tax and benefit cap, I found myself, as a single parent, unable to make ends meet.
I was then referred to Money Lifeline via another organisation and assigned an adviser. My adviser was very professional, had extensive knowledge and understanding of financial matters. She was exceptionally well organised, thorough, fast, efficient, enthusiastic, motivated, driven and always worked with such impeccable accuracy. As a caring, devoted and dedicated member of the team she positively and confidently supported me throughout a lengthy eviction process. She then managed to successfully secure a Debt Relief Order for me, freeing me from the debt that had accumulated by living in unaffordable accommodation. I was then offered post-eviction aftercare and budgeting advice, which will now give me the freedom to look forward to a financially clearer future, in a property better suited to my budget.
Thank you to the team at Money Lifeline.
Looking forward, we know that personal debt is rising: continuing squeezes on benefits and earnings together with rising inflation mean that problems will continue. And the roll out of Universal Credit brings additional challenges to family finances.
Most of our referrals come from support workers who respect the professional and caring work that we do. But we are not able to keep up with demand: we still have a long waiting list of people wanting to see us.
How can you help?
We are asking local churches and Christians to support us in three ways:
- Please continue to pray for us – our advisers and our clients – that we might continue to show God’s love, act wisely and carefully and provide real solace and assistance.
- Please support us financially –please consider making a gift as a church or individual for our running costs. Our turnover is around £3,000 a year for items like stationery, insurance, phone and office costs (we have no paid staff, only volunteers): a small number of churches have faithfully supported us for many years but it would be great if others could do so. Please let us know if you require more information or would like a copy of our accounts.
- Please join us as a volunteer debt adviser. We currently have 9 advisers: additional team members would enable us to deal with demands and plan for the future. We’re looking for believers who are numerate and computer literate, good listeners with a heart for this work. Full training is provided but we need people to be able to commit to regular sessions – typically one or two afternoons, evenings or mornings a week. If this has touched your heart, please contact us for an initial chat and to get more information.
We’d like to thank Basingstoke Community Churches for continuing to let us have office space for admin and to meet clients at The Sarum Hill Centre – your support is much appreciated.
We hope this update has helped you understand what Money Lifeline is doing and how we are showing the love of Jesus in a practical and effective way.
If you have any queries or questions, please contact us on 01256 351026 or by e mail to firstname.lastname@example.org : use the same contact details for anyone needing our services. If you have any suggestions on how we could improve, please let us know.
If you’re interested take a look at www.youtube.com/watch?v=aG5C5KNGOvM for a short video produced by our national charity CMA about how we are trying to help people in debt.
Feel free to share this update with any interested parties. You can download this newsletter below:
For Money Lifeline