Every month, CMA’s centres are in receipt of letters of thanks from clients for the help they have received; help that has changed not just their financial circumstances but their lives.
The following stories have been freely shared by clients. They are a continual encouragement to CMA and centre staff, and demonstrate how profoundly good, face-to-face money advice can change lives. CMA want to extend their ongoing thanks to the advisers across the country who are bringing new hope to so many, and to wish all the very best to everyone who comes to our centres for help.
CMA are absolutely committed to complete client confidentiality; this is embedded in our policies and procedures and central to our respect for CMA centres’ clients. The following stories have had name and address identifiers removed and are published with permission. Some are also available in CMA's Real People booklets: see our resources page.
Thank you for your guidance – I feel better already. (T Churchill)
We helped Mr W prepare a financial statement, negotiate reduced payments to all his creditors and free himself from a fee-charging debt management company. When we contacted him for a six-monthly review he said "I think I can do this myself now; you’ve given me the confidence and courage to stand up to these ‘big boys’ [his creditors] and deal with my finances myself.“ (CMA centre)
We recently had a couple visit us who were in a complete state. The husband had been borrowing money, without telling his wife, to cover up some financial difficulties. She had found out by accident and dragged him along to us.
Their marriage was all but over as she felt she couldn’t trust him any more but admitted that she still loved him.
Not only have we been able to negotiate a payment plan with creditors but we also suggested the marriage course that was running and starting the following week. Having attended, they have got their marriage very much back on track and are working to sort out their finances. (CMA centre)
Thanks for all your help and support this year. Don’t know what we would have done without you. (S Davies)
One of our clients found herself in financial difficulties as the result of an abusive relationship. This had ended and her company had put her on ‘gardening leave’, giving her time to sort out health problems and in the meantime offering her an alternative position hundreds of miles away from home. We wrote to all her creditors asking for a moratorium until her job situation was sorted out. Then, after discussion we helped her through bankruptcy, assisting her at court and were able to share the gospel with her. She has now made a fresh start, is managing her finances debt-free and has found a new job. (CMA centre)
As the time is rapidly approaching when I will be writing a cheque in full and final settlement of my last remaining debt, I just wanted to tell you how very grateful I am for all the help and advice you have given over the past three or more years.
Your wisdom, wise counsel and understanding have been invaluable – and have not only turned around my financial situation but also enabled me to gain new insight into my attitude towards money and how to budget.
When I first approached St Paul’s Debt Advice Centre for help, it seemed that it could take twenty years to repay the amounts owed. Since I am in my early seventies, this was a very daunting prospect. But the whole situation has been resolved in less than four years.
Thank you more than I could ever express for all you have done to make this possible. (MP, CMA client)
Tragic circumstances left Mrs A with no means of paying off her £17k debts. Her best and fairest option was bankruptcy. We helped her complete the forms, secured the bankruptcy fee from a utility supplier, and she was ‘free’ from debt in twelve months.
She spoke to me later and said, "Do you know, for the first time in years I enjoy receiving phone calls and enjoy getting mail – knowing that they won’t be bad news any more! You did that for me!"
After we had been seeing a gentleman for six weeks, we had managed to sort most of the debt issues and set up payments. At that point, he shared that before coming to the advice centre, his wife had gone to live with her mother as living with him was difficult. But now he was happier, a weight had been taken off his shoulders, his wife was back and he said he was "smiling again". (CMA centre)
Thank you for being prepared to listen and not to judge me. You have offered practical and simple solutions and just having someone to refer my creditors to so I don’t have to deal with them is such a relief. I feel as if a huge weight has been lifted. Thank you. (Ms F, CMA client)
Debtscape (CMA Chertsey) was contacted by Tina, having seen our poster in her local church. She has a brother for whom she has power of attorney over his affairs which, in the circumstances, she had to exercise. Tina and her husband were finding it increasingly difficult to deal with correspondence from her brother’s creditors as well as trying to manage the sale of his house over a long distance.
Debtscape was able to step in and deal with the creditors’ correspondence, which proved a great relief to Tina and her family. We kept in regular contact to ensure Tina had up-to-date information.
Eventually the house was sold and funds became available to pay the creditors. Debtscape was able to negotiate full and final settlement with all the creditors as well as ensuring that all interest relief, where applicable, reduced the debt.
Here are extracts from Tina’s letter and from that of her brother to Debtscape once our help was no longer needed:
Tina’s letter: “… thank you for all the hard work you did to sort out my brother’s affairs… I cannot put into words just how much we appreciated your help. We felt totally out of our depth in dealing with the creditors. Debtscape is doing a wonderful job and is a wonderful practical way of showing how Christians can help those in trouble… I am enclosing a copy of a section of my brother’s letter…”
Brother’s letter: “… but I’d be really grateful if you could thank our friends at Debtscape. It sounds as if they did a wonderful job. They are – literally – a Godsend. Thanks.”
You are lifesavers. I didn’t know what to do or where to go and was ready to do something stupid. You have shown me that my life is worth living. (Mr D, CMA client)
In October 2005 Stacey came to see us (CMA Norwich) in a desperate state because she was being threatened with eviction by her landlord for getting behind with her rent payments. She was a single mum with a nine-month-old baby and had been referred to us by our local council because she was in danger of being made homeless.
Stacey was struggling to live on her income from a small part-time job and state benefits and the added burden of half a dozen debts was making her life extremely miserable. She often responded to threatening phone calls from her creditors by agreeing to pay them what they demanded and then found that she couldn’t make her rent payments to her landlord. Her finances were out of control and Stacey was extremely depressed.
Thankfully the situation was caught just in time and we discovered that she was entitled to a significant increase in her benefits. The arrears of Housing Benefit that were paid to her almost covered her rent arrears and we were also able to negotiate reduced monthly payments with all her creditors. The increase in her income, combined with the decrease in her expenditure, meant that she was able to meet her monthly rent, remain in her flat and meet all her financial commitments.
The relief for Stacey was enormous. She had no family in the area to support her and, having made several friends in her neighbourhood, desperately wanted to remain in her accommodation. Once the threat of eviction was lifted and her finances were back under control, Stacey’s depression lifted and she felt much more able to deal with her finances every month and cope with the stresses of looking after a tiny baby. Her landlord was so pleased with the result that he even asked if he could refer future clients to us if they were having problems with their rent!
David was brought to our centre (CMA Burgess Hill) on his way home from hospital after having tried to commit suicide. He owed a total of £60,000 to 30 creditors. He had tried borrowing to pay off loans and credit cards and was so desperate that when the money he’d borrowed from family and friends ran out, he turned to loan sharks.
At first he juggled, borrowing from one to pay another and when he realised his parents’ house, which was being used as collateral, was at risk of repossession, David decided his only route was to end it all. Over the weeks and months we worked through masses of paperwork and, as a centre, invited any of David’s creditors to visit us and talk things through. David was able to make token payments of £1 per month until he was well enough to cope with facing bankruptcy. Going to court was tough as was the fear of reprisals from some of the loan sharks. However, we managed to talk to everyone, explaining the situation and we dealt with the mortgage company so that the threat of eviction was removed. Suffice to say we were amazed when not one, but two of the loan sharks ended up at our centre asking for advice.
My name is Iyabo and I have been a client of St Paul’s Debt Advice (CMA Hammersmith) for about a year. Their compassionate and expert help with my finances has helped to steer my plans to get out of debt onto a more sure footing. Their involvement with my creditors has certainly taken away the high stress and fear factor of dealing with my finances. It’s great to know that there is a team of people on my side who refuse to be bullied, and advocate strongly on my behalf. They have also shown me the importance of establishing regular communication with my creditors, and have negotiated reasonable repayment plants to these companies. SPDAC have also taught me valuable skills on budgeting and the beauty of dealing in cash!!