Don’t hide your debts, seek help

Financial supportWhen your debts are mounting up it’s very easy to hide them, thinking that they’ll go away.

That’s exactly what Acton resident Michael Williamson did. But it wasn’t long before Michael’s debts caught up with him and he risked losing his job.

Changing circumstances

Michael first got into debt after he separated from his partner and lost his job. As he had other things going on in his life, keeping on top of his bills was the last thing on his mind.

“Rather than face up to my finances, I hid my bills – under sofa cushions and at the back of cupboards. I thought if I ignored them they would vanish,” says Michael.

Possibility of losing home

It wasn’t long before Michael’s rent account was in arrears. Our income team wrote to him numerous times asking him to work with us come up with a repayment plan. Michael, of course, ignored these letters.

Michael only took action when we wrote to him to let him know that as a last resort we would be taking him to court to repossess his home.

“It then hit me that I would lose my home. I went to Catalyst’s West Ealing office and thank God I met Corrine. She was so kind and understanding in how she spoke to me that I knew she would help,” he says.

Immediate action

Corrine Williams, our financial inclusion officer at Catalyst Gateway, knew she had to act fast to stop Michael getting evicted. She immediately spoke to our income team about Michael’s situation so the court hearing would be stopped.

Michael, with Corrine’s support, worked with the income team to come up with a repayment plan and a course of action to clear his rent arrears.

“The income team was very helpful after Corrine explained my situation. We worked on a repayment plan, they stopped the court hearing and I was able to keep my home” says Michael.

Additional support

After helping to halt the initial repossession order, Corrine’s support didn’t just stop there. She assisted Michael in applying for Discretionary Housing Payments from Ealing Council and also put him in touch with charities which could help him reduce his other debts.

Corrine said: “People don’t realise how many charities and organisations are out there to help people in genuine need. We don’t judge you, we’re just here to help you.”

Advice to other residents

Michael couldn’t be happier that he contacted us before it was too late. And he advices other residents to do the same.

“The easiest option is to ignore your debts. But that’s not the best option. Talk to Catalyst – they will help you. I’m now happier, stress-free and looking forward to the future,” says Michael.

Get financial support now

If you or someone you know has rent arrears or is in financial difficulty, please call us straightway on 0300 456 2099.

We’ll then put you in touch with our income team or financial inclusion team at Catalyst Gateway to make sure you get the best possible support so you don’t end up losing your home.

The worst possible thing you can do is ignore calls and letters from us or the person you owe money to. No matter what your situation is please stay in regular contact with us. We’ll be able to refer you to debt agencies, and can also give you information on budgeting and maximising your income.