Josie's* Story: A fresh new start after domestic abuse
When Josie took her three children and left her abusive partner, the debts he had run up in her name followed her and threatened to rob them of hope and a safer future together.
It was early morning in January 2020 when Josie and her three children fled the family home with only what they could carry – which was very little.
Josie says, “We had to restart everything. The council helped with temporary accommodation [which was furnished], but I had no food, blankets, anything. I already had debt but had to spend more money just getting the basics.
“We moved again [into more permanent accommodation] during lockdown. I was planning using a charity shop to buy second-hand furniture as cheaply as possible, but the charity shops were closed. So I had to borrow more money to buy furniture.”
Josie already had a lot of different debts with different companies. They were all pressurising her to make payment agreements that she couldn’t afford and so she was effectively “robbing Peter to pay Paul”. Because she had left her partner and had had so many expenses as a result, the debts had mounted still further.
“I was feeling overwhelmed, it was all getting too much,” Josie says. “I had been plugging away at things, but it was like trudging through mud and not getting anywhere.”
Josie has two children, one of whom is disabled and needs a lot of support, so she is a full time carer to him. She had been getting support with him from the Early Help Team who suggested she contacted REACH for help with her debt.
REACH Community Outreach Advisor Philippa has been working with Josie. She says, “Josie is a lovely warm person who obviously adores her children and is so keen to get her finances in order so they can have a more secure future. I worked with her to draw up a budget. She’s stuck to it, and it’s allowed her to save a bit of money so that she can now pay for much-needed clothes. I can hear the pride in Josie’s voice when she talks about how she has managed to save – it’s really helped to restore her dignity. The savings won’t be enough to clear the sizeable debt though. So we’re working with her to apply for a Debt Relief Order which will write the debts off and give her and the children the chance they desperately need to leave the past behind for good.”
Josie says, “REACH has helped us so much - now we have everything we need, white goods and furniture. Once we have done the Debt Relief Order, it’ll be like a completely fresh start, I can live and breathe easy. It’s been such a long time since I have not been worried about whether we have enough food at the end of the month. It's been a big weight lifted.”
*identifying details changed to protect client family
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