When The Reverend Shaun Armstrong and his family moved from a small new-build property to a larger ministry home, they knew their bills would increase. What they couldn’t have foreseen was the staggering cost-of-living crisis which left them worrying about heating their home and living in only one room.
The Revd Shaun, an assistant curate, explains how a call to Clergy Support Trust helped ease the family’s energy debt.
When the news hit about energy prices going up significantly, it became a big worry. We kept an eye on our bills and were being careful. We cut back, no more takeaways or new clothes.
It started getting more serious. We had showers instead of baths and were wearing lots of layers to avoid having the heating on. We all ate together so the oven would only be on once. It got to the point where we were just keeping to one room and not heating the others.
I contacted the Trust and they immediately put me at ease. They understood my situation and reassured me there are many others experiencing similar challenges. They’re fantastic people and explained things clearly and concisely.
Affecting the whole family
Our son, Shay, is at an age where he wants to spend time in his bedroom, playing computer games, reading and doing his own thing. I felt guilty having to ask him to read in the living room with us, so we didn’t have to turn the heating on.
My wife, Kamila works in the NHS and drives to work, so we were dealing with the huge increase in fuel costs at the same time.
Slipping into debt
We tried everything, but we soon realised it wasn’t making much difference. The prices were still increasing. It got to quite a desperate situation where we owed the energy company £900.
You don’t come into the ministry for money. But naturally and realistically, you can find yourself in relative poverty.
Time to get help
I turned to my wife and said, ‘We’ve got to do something about this, we need to reach out for help’.
It’s a difficult thing to ask for help. As someone in the ministry, I’m here to support those less fortunate or struggling to make ends meet. We suddenly realised we were in that category.
We received a sum of money from Clergy Support Trust which covered most of the debt. It’s been a relief to receive that support and it’s helped keep our heads above water. It’s taken a huge weight off, not just for me, but for my wife too. Having that worry reduced and knowing there’s support out there is liberating. It’s allowing me to focus on my ministry.
If you’re experiencing something similar, I’d encourage you to contact the Trust. I know there’s an element of avoidance, because people don’t feel they’re worthy of support, but don’t suffer in silence. None of us like to ask for help, but have confidence in your heart. Clergy Support Trust is there for a reason.