The Revd Canon Joseph Adewale moved from Nigeria to the UK, with his wife and four children, to study. He later joined St Mary’s Church in Luton, where he is a non-stipendiary minister.
When utility prices soared, Joseph spiralled into debt. Not knowing where to turn, grants from Clergy Support Trust have been vital in helping the family get back on their feet.
A strain on the family
"As a priest, you are there for everyone else. When church members have a financial issue or a marital problem, they come to you for counselling and prayer. When we have an issue, we feel like we don’t have anywhere to turn. Often, we’ll pretend we don’t have a problem, because there’s no one to confide in.
We were living in a one-bedroomed flat and our energy supplier increased the bill significantly by over £200 a month. I spoke with them, encouraging them to send an engineer as I thought something must be wrong. But they wouldn’t and said I had to pay the debt.
I tried another supplier, but of course the debt is still there, and this new direct debit soon accumulated too. We then moved to a flat where the prices were more manageable, but I was now paying for the new place alongside the debt from the previous flat.
When the children would say they were cold, I’d tell them to put on a sweatshirt or jacket. The worst part were the emails and letters from the supplier, threatening me and saying they’d take me to court. Every time I got one, it affected my spiritual and mental health."
A helping hand
"I applied to the Trust for an Emergency grant. I used the money to offset the energy debt from my old flat, and to pay for the current one.
It gave me a lot of relief and it boosted my mental health, because the strain had been seriously affecting me. Now if the children are cold, we’re able to put the heating on for a bit without worrying.
Clergy Support Trust has supported us in other ways too. We only had one laptop, which the children took turns on for school. The Trust has enabled us to get another, which has helped so much. They’ve also paid for my wife’s glasses through a Health grant."
Turning our lives around
"Without Clergy Support Trust, I would’ve certainly added to my debt. I would’ve been forced to go and borrow more money from the bank and borrow from friends.
There’s also the negative mental health aspect. It would have affected my children too, because they wouldn't have access to a computer for their education. And my wife wouldn’t be able to read the way she’s reading without her glasses. The Trust has helped in a lot of ways.
People see us as religious leaders, they forget we’re human beings. The Trust do more than finance. They care about your wellbeing and there’s counselling too. If you’re struggling, you have a place where you can go."