News : Debt Helpline to be Relaunched in Omagh
Sept 18, 2014 -- Continuing to deal with vast levels of local debt, Omagh Independent Advice Services is set to relaunch a helpline support service, despite having its funding slashed last year.
Up until Christmas past, this phone service was open two nights a week to provide confidential advice and help to those suffering from debt.
However despite funding to provide this service being cut, local financial advice officer Michele Loughran has taken it upon herself to open the line again in October.
Illustrating the need locally, Michelle revealed that so far this year the local debt service has had 210 new clients seeking help with an unsecured debt.
Michelle said, "Last year funding for our debt helpline finished and we feel this was a great loss to the community. People were able to ring and speak to a debt adviser totally anonymously without fear of being known. It was a good way to make initial contact and allowed the fear to reduce and encouraged people to come in if necessary, to get a solution to their crisis.
"We are hopeful that we will begin the helpline again at the start of October, one night a week, even for just a short period of time coming up to Christmas, without funding."
"Christmas is a time of year that puts pressure on family life, particularly those with children. Budget now to take some of the stress away. Use the local shops offering Christmas clubs to buy toys and food, this will remove some of the stress and a better option to panic buying at Christmas with a pay day loan or credit card.
"Clients worry about their levels of affordability and how they are going to cope with paying everything, this includes household necessities."
A couple of months ago, Michelle had highlighted concerns that the "next crisis" which will hit people will be the rise in mortgage interest rates.
She fears that those who are only just coping with the current rates may come into difficulty when monthly payments start to rise.
Michelle advised, "We would as always ask people to seek help early. Those struggling to repay the mortgage now, need to sit down and put their finances on paper. There are good budgeting tips to help in all types of situations. Don’t let the mortgage fall into arrears without seeking help."
Posted by Veronica Silva Cusi, news correspondent
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Published: Sunday, September 21, 2014