Huntingdonshire debt charity receiving more calls in run-up to Christmas

PUBLISHED: 12:17 06 November 2017 | UPDATED: 12:17 06 November 2017

Ann Fryer who founded the debt charity LAD.

Ann Fryer who founded the debt charity LAD.

Archant

A St Neots-based debt charity is experiencing an increase in the number of people making contact with concerns about money in the run-up to Christmas.

Life Amid Debt (LAD) says many clients are feeling pressurised into taking out pay-day loans to cover daily living expenses, such as food and child care costs, and others are worried about how they will afford to buy Christmas presents. Advisors at LAD are dealing with about 20 per cent more calls than this time last year and handing out more foodbank vouchers than ever before.

LAD was founded by Eaton Socon mum-of-three Ann Fryer who had this message for anyone struggling with mounting debts: “Don’t bury your head in the sand, come and talk to us. All of us at LAD have struggled with debt so we understand some of what you will be going through and the stigma surrounding debt that makes it difficult to tell anyone you have a problem.”

Ann has personal experience of debt after her business went into liquidation in 2005 and she found herself being hounded by creditors and almost lost her home.

“I do understand how it feels when the debts are piling up and I don’t want anyone to feel that they have nowhere to turn. We are here to help and we don’t judge anyone. Firstly, we will listen and then help people to set up a payment plan and we will write to the creditors for them. In this situation people tend to feel very out of control and we help them to take back ownership of their finances.”

Ann set up the debt support agency in 2009 and it received charitable status in 2012. Advisors provide emotional, as well as practical help and run workshops to help people manage money and budget for their bills so they do not feel forced to take out loans with exorbitant interest rates.

“We understand that payday loans and guarantor loans may feel like a quick fix when you are struggling to make ends meet, but some of these companies, despite government intervention, are still charging huge interest rates,” explained Ann.

LAD will also check to make sure people are receiving all the benefits they are entitled to claim.

The Hunts Post also contacted Citizens Advice Rural Cambs and the charity said it was bracing itself for a rise in calls in the new year.

“We are expecting to see more people contacting us in January once the credit card bills land on the doormat,” said the charity’s chief executive Batul Dungarwalla.

“As well as helping people to negotiate debt, we play a vital role in ensuring people pay their priority bills, such as rent/mortgage, council tax and fuel payments and help them obtain the best deals for other outgoings.”

She added: “If anyone is worried about how they are going to afford to pay for Christmas, then come and speak to us now. Don’t wait until Christmas is over and the damage is done.”

Contact LAD

Drop-in sessions on Wednesdays, from 12.30pm till 5.50pm; Fridays, from 9.30pm till 4pm. at the Volunteer Centre, in South Street, St Neots. Tel: 07768681564 or email: advice@lifeamiddebt.org.uk. Paines Mill foyer, Phoenix Square, Bedford Street, on Wednesdays, from 6.30pm till 8pm. Ramsey Library, 25 Great Whyte on Monday and Wednesday, from 10am till midday or call: 07787346400 or 03330067339; email: raymondgibbs@btinternet.com.

Contact Citizens Advice

Drop-in sessions on Monday, Tuesday, Thursday at the mobile building in Tan Yard car park, St Neots, from 9.30am till 12.30pm. Pathfinder House, St Mary’s Street, Huntingdon, on Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday at 9.30am till 12.30pm. Call the advice line on: 03442451292.

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