I am delighted that the Steve Morgan Foundation have awarded a salary until March 2023 to employ a Debt Support Officer within the Chester Citizen’s Advice Bureau (CAB). She/he will work three days a week in partnership with Chester Cathedral to coordinate a Community Project in Cheshire to help Debt Clients that have a significant debt. They will work out a Debt Plan that aims to bring their finances and spending under control, and provide practical advice to help them execute their plans.
Debt Plans typically involve a number of detailed actions that need to be taken (e.g. changing to more cost-effective utility contracts, and developing a spend budget) which most of these people have never done before, and therefore struggle to do without outside help and support. Past experience from Citizen’s Advice is that the success rate with completing and achieving these plans is significantly higher if they have a ‘buddy’ that can work alongside them while they are executing the plan. We also know that a buddy working with these people makes it more likely they will view their finances differently and will have learnt and developed healthier financial habits that will help them have more robust financial future.
In addition, there are many proven links between poor mental health and debt, and the stress and anxiety of debt traps thousand of people and their families in cyclical poverty. Another crucial input from the buddy is being able to understand the Debt Client’s position and likelihood of completing the plan, and offer relevant relational support and sign-posting the Debt Client to other services such as mental health support or local community groups.
The Debt Support Officer will skill-up, train and coordinate a number of volunteer ‘buddies’ who can each work regularly with one or more Debt Clients on a personal level, and if required in a Covid-secure manner, to help them through implementing each stage and component part of the Debt Plan. I will help to identify suitable volunteers through various existing resources and organisations. If you are interested in being a volunteer, do please let me know.
Although there is funding for a salary, National Insurance and travel, there is still a need to find on-costs for the three years of £9000.
If you would like to support this new initiative financially, then please contact me here or send a cheque payable to Chester Cathedral and marked ‘Debt Officer’ to 3 Bridge Place CHESTER CH1 1SA