A carer who overcame crippling debt is urging others not to suffer in silence.
The Futures customer from Amber Valley has already reduced her debts by £6,000 and secured benefits worth £11,057 a year thanks to support from the housing association’s money advice team.
Laura, whose name has been changed, fell into a five-year cycle of borrowing and spending and only contacted her landlord after loan and credit debt left her in “a financial cul-de-sac”.
The 48-year-old said: “There’s so much help out there it’s just knowing how to find it. It’s like my life has done a U-turn, I can’t believe it.
“I want everybody to know because there is so much help out there.
“When the money came through I couldn’t believe it. I genuinely felt as if a weight had been lifted off my shoulders.
“Don’t decide you won’t get anything: that’s not your decision to make, someone else makes that. Don’t decide there’s no point in trying. I could’ve had help ages ago, I regret not finding out sooner.”
Futures’ money advice team, which won a national award for its approach to income management in 2016, offers help and support to customers facing financial difficulty.
Money Advisor Andy Smith was one of the first people Laura spoke to after admitting to herself that she needed help. Andy said: “Laura was very reluctant to apply for additional benefits, but her situation meant she would have a good chance of entitlement.
“I persuaded her to make a claim for Personal Independence Payments and this has increased her income dramatically.”
Despite being born with joint problems, she had never claimed benefits for mobility, “when you’re born with a disability you don’t see it as one, it’s part of you,” she said.
“I never claimed because I thought I’m fine and won’t get it.”
The claim was accepted, giving Laura an extra £11,057 per year. Since speaking with Andy, Laura has sold her car and replaced it with a disability car, removing the need to pay for costly adaptations. This also means Laura now has a blue badge and free bus pass, saving her money on parking and travel.
“Life is so much better for me,” she added.
“I had reached a financial cul-de-sac, genuinely felt cornered by bad finances and didn’t know which way to turn and felt quite trapped.”
“No one wants to admit they were in that kind of trouble. It was just one phone call, one chat that made the difference.”
Tips on applying for extra benefits and reducing bills are also shared online as part of the campaign.