Submitted by george.somers@… on

When your debts begin to mount up, it can be a struggle to know what to do and where to turn.

For Gareth*, a Reverend in northwest England, his money problems became overwhelming, so he contacted us to ask for help. With practical support, he’s been able to take back control of his finances.

Our debt situation built up gradually over many years. We didn’t live extravagantly, but spending above our means over a long period of time meant our debt crept up to £26,000. Various things happened where we’d just put it on the credit card, and it became too easy to do that.

For a long time, we were avoiding just how bad the situation was. We never missed any payments, because at the end of each month whatever we had left, we’d pay back. But it wasn’t reducing the overall amount, just paying the interest.

We realised there was no way we could cope because we couldn’t get the debt down. We had this fear that we’d be coming up to retirement and using our pension to pay it off.

Finding a way forward

Clergy Support Trust had previously helped with a grant for a laptop for my ministry, so I got in contact, just to get some guidance.

They put me in touch with their partner, the debt charity, StepChange and right from the start, it was reassuring.

The Trust working with StepChange was like a joint attack to deal with the problem. Both put me at ease and helped me believe there was a way through this.

I knew there was a possibility of Clergy Support Trust giving us some financial assistance as well, but I never dared to believe it would happen.

The grant was £10,000 and after negotiation, we ended up being able to reduce the debt further. In eighteen months, we’ll be debt-free, something we couldn't even dream of at the start.

A man, wearing a dark t-shirt and glasses, looking at the camera and smiling.

Reflecting on the journey

Being able to chat things through and talk about options without being judged helped us to take ownership of it. It was like a huge weight just lifted. The bonus of the grant was phenomenal.

It's been quite an incredible journey and it’s wonderful to see our debt come down for the first time.

One of the things that Julia* and I have already spoken about is when we do finish paying the debt off, we want to give something back and start supporting Clergy Support Trust with a monthly donation. It won’t be anywhere near what we’ve received, but we want to make sure the Trust can continue to support other people.

*Names have been changed to protect their identities.

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