'I was drowning in debt, but they were my lifeline' - Hitchin woman thanks group for help
PUBLISHED: 08:29 24 January 2016
We're plugging our way through January, and it's a time of year when everyone's feeling the pinch.
We’re plugging our way through January, and it’s a time of year when everyone’s feeling the pinch.
For many pay day is still a few days away, but the Christmas bills are beginning to come through the letterbox.
If finances weren’t in a healthy shape before the festive season, things could look even rockier now.
In many areas salaries are continuing to fall in real terms and, despite improving economic prospects, job security can still be a worry for many.
And with credit card bills, car loan repayments, mortgage or rent and other household bills refusing to go away, it might seem that there’s no prospect of light at the end of the tunnel.
But no matter how helpless you may feel your situation might be, there is help is at hand.
One organisation which offers free debt advice is the Hitchin Debt Centre, run in partnership with Hitchin Christian Centre.
It gives free advice to anyone who feels weighed down by the scale of their financial problems.
And one person they helped was Kerri Jordan, who is only too happy to talk about her experience to encourage others to make use of the service as they try to get their affairs in order.
Kerri, a former pupil at Hitchin Girls’ School, owed nearly £30,000 after being trapped by negative equity in the wake of a difficult divorce in 2013.
That year Kerri, who was already heavily pregnant with her second child, struggled to find the money to pay all her bills.
She simply couldn’t pay her weekly outgoings – let alone try to settle what she owed as a result of her disastrous foray into the housing market.
Single mum Kerri had to look after her young daughter and had another child on the way – but she had no income, and didn’t even have a roof over her head after selling the house she’d bought with her former husband.
At her lowest ebb, when she was living in a hostel, North Herts District Council stepped in and found her social housing in the town.
But she was still weighed down by her debt burden, and unsure of which way to turn.
Then a couple of her friends mentioned Hitchin Debt Centre, which operates under the wider banner of Christians against Poverty.
Kerri explained: “I was drowning in debt and was a bit cynical about going along. But I’m so glad I did.
“They helped me turn my life around in terms of being able to deal with my debts.
“I left all my bills unopened, as I got to a stage in my life when I had other pressing problems.
“Dealing with bills was just too difficult to contemplate on top of my divorce.
“Through CAP, and a man called Phil Jackson – who used to be a teacher at Hitchin Girls’ School when I was there – they proved to be a great help.
“Phil’s home visits helped me by forcing me to open all my bills.
“He drew up a budget sheet and made me fully understand the importance of paying bills.
“Phil, through CAP, has helped me turn my life around.
“I’m now looking to go to university next year and feel so much more positive about my life and dealing with debt.
“Life isn’t perfect by any means, but I do feel a lot more confident about facing the future.
“I would encourage anyone with debt issues and problems to contact them so that they can help.
“Being in debt is horrible but Phil and CAP have been so helpful – and I can’t thank them enough.”
Debt coach Phil added: “We exist because nobody should be held hostage by debt and poverty – but the truth is these problems are rife in UK society, and even happens in towns such as Hitchin.
“The grip of poverty breaks families apart – but we are passionate about helping people escape from a life sentence of debt, poverty and their causes.
“Through our services, run through local churches, we are tackling poverty head on.
“We are glad to have helped – and continue to help – Kerri.
“We don’t judge anyone who contacts us, we just want to help.”
If you have debt worries and would like to talk to someone call CAP on 01274 760720.