General Election 2015: Tracey’s Story. Debt – Part 1


I was working in A&E
in Peterborough Hospital full time and I decided that I wanted
to take my career further, so I decided to go to university
and become a trained nurse. While I was at university
I broke my hand, so because I’d broken my hand
I had a cast on and you can’t do training as a nurse
because you need to do practical, so the university said
I wasn’t allowed to go until I get the cast off. Tracy’s hand
took so long to heal she was asked to
start the course all over again, but she knew she couldn’t afford to
and began looking for work. I had to go to the Jobcentre
and have a Jobseekers Allowance. That was not enough to
live in a three-bedroom house with two children. She started to borrow
on her credit cards until the debt
became unmanageable. My debts went from a £1000 bill
to a £3000 bill because of interest
that had accumulated and charges, when actually I hadn’t even
had that much money to start with. And then I’d use another card because I still hadn’t got any money
to be living on and it sort of just spiralled slowly,
until one day I just realised – How am I going to pay all this back
with no job, no nothing? It made a massive impact
on my life – I stopped going out,
I didn’t answer the calls, I didn’t open my letters,
I put a lot of weight on, I couldn’t sleep. It was a really massive,
drastic life-changing problem really. I didn’t know what to do
or where to go. In the end
Tracy told a friend about her debt and she suggested getting in touch
with the Debt Advice service at the local Salvation Army. It’s just one of the many programmes
going on here in Peterborough, and it’s run by Heather. It’s open to anybody
in the community to come to us if they’re in debt at all
and we’ll help them with their debt issues – they could be just
a few pounds in debt to thousands of pounds
in debt really – and they come along,
explain their situation to us and we see how
we can help them. There’s lots of different ways
we could help them – we could help them
with a debt management plan, we can help them
with a debt relief order, we can go to court with them
if they’re going to court, we can refer them to specialists
if that’s what they need – but lots of different options. I remember feeling embarrassed when I first went to
The Salvation Army – that was the first thing, because it’s embarrassing
to admit to somebody that you’ve actually
got yourself into trouble, you’ve hidden yourself
under the sand and not really
done anything about it. Hiya Hi Tracy how are you? I remember first meeting
Heather there, and she went through
a list of what bills you’ve got and she opened the letters
I hadn’t opened, and made a list
of what you owed and what your income
and expenditure was, and then said that she would
then contact all these people for me and not to worry any more, and that she will be there for me
and I can call her if I need to, any time. Are you able to email
something through to me? Yeah I can take a picture of it
and send it to you – It was literally like a weight
lifted off my shoulders, I was…
I just cried because I was so happy
that someone was going to help me get out of this
really terrible situation. I gave her a cuddle actually, I was so happy to be told that
somebody is going to help me. Seeing people free of debt
is wonderful, just seeing people managing to budget
on what they’ve got – maybe they still have debts
and they’re still paying them off – but they’re actually
managing it themselves and knowing they can cope with that
and just being able to help them again, all these things are really positive
and really do make the job worthwhile. Tracy is back doing the job
that she loves at A&E and bit by bit
she’s paying back her debt. I think credit cards and loans
are too easy to be able to get hold of and it needs to stop,
it needs to change. I can see how people can do silly things
because of the debt that they get it in – no way would I ever
do that ever again.

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