“UK household debt hits record high”

This was the headline I woke up to just before Christmas, and was based on figures released by the Bank of England.

As a Money and Debt Adviser, my heart sank a little, but I was not surprised. There can be few people who didn’t feel the bite of the financial crisis of a few years ago, and many are still struggling, even as the economy begins its slow recovery.

Add to that the various changes to welfare benefits, including the controversial ‘Bedroom Tax’, and many of our clients are experiencing something of a perfect financial storm.

So where does Shelter Scotland come in?

Most housing problems start because of financial difficulties. We do some incredible work preventing homelessness, always endeavouring to identify and resolve the underlying cause. Having a team of dedicated debt advisers across Scotland is a natural progression.

The figures speak for themselves. Since the Debt Advice Service began in our Dundee office four years ago, it has helped almost 600 households avoid homelessness.

I initially set out to describe a typical day, but like many of us, there is no such thing. From budgeting advice to bankruptcy, Mortgage-to-Rent schemes to mopping up tears, negotiating with creditors to negotiating the Consumer Credit Act, my days are busy, bustling and…often brilliant. A good result for a client puts a grin on my face that lasts all the way home. I get the occasional funny look on the bus, but it’s worth it.

I love my job and I’m passionate about providing easy access to free, impartial money advice. It’s not always easy for those in debt to negotiate with creditors on their own, for many reasons, not least fear and embarrassment. Having someone on your side, ensuring you are fully aware of your options and obligations, can be an invaluable source of support and reassurance. Not only that, but the vast majority of our clients achieve a positive outcome – and the earlier they contact us, the more likely a successful resolution is

It’s never too late though. Even when things look bleak, getting help to take control is the first step toward turning things around.

In the words of Martin Lewis (Money Saving Expert), ‘No debt problems are unsolvable. It might not be easy or quick, but there’s always a route’.

If you need to speak to a dedicated Money and Debt Adviser, call 0344 515 2404 or 0344 515 2392, or email: fuel_scotland@shelter.org.uk.