Debt Awareness Week (23 – 29 March 2020) is StepChange’s annual campaign to encourage an open dialogue on debt and financial health, letting people know where and how they can get help and advice.
With many people worried about money due to the impact of Coronavirus, this year’s campaign is more important than ever. Our colleagues across Group are showing their support and sharing the message with both our customers and colleagues to try and reach as many people as possible.
We caught up with our Recoveries team, who are leading the campaign for debt awareness at Vanquis, to find out more about what this week is all about.
Q: Who are StepChange and why is their work so vital?
For more than 25 years, StepChange have worked collaboratively with partners to help people at risk of or struggling with debt to take back control of their finances and their lives. They offer budgeting, repayment plans, insolvency to mortgage advice. They take full account of an individual's financial circumstances, their situation and needs, to help them choose a realistic path out of debt. Many people with financial difficulties are also vulnerable for many other reasons. Where this is the case, StepChange provide additional support tailored to their circumstances.
Q. Why are StepChange so important to us at Vanquis?
As a creditor we play a huge role in supporting our customers who are struggling with debt. For customers who are facing serious long-term financial difficulty it is vital that we support them in accessing debt advice as early as possible. Part of this support includes being debt aware and consistently mindful of the triggers that we can look for when our customers and friends and family might not be directly telling us they are suffering with money worries.
Q: Why do you think it's important that we talk about debt?
Personal debt has a positive role to play in our economy, it can fund life investments like a university education or a mortgage, but when people are unable to pay their debts, this can have a serious impact on their life. Our customers and colleagues can be facing life-altering problems such as eviction and homelessness alongside other worries such as court proceedings and repossessions. It's important to think about the impact that debt can have on someone's mental health and their relationships with the people around them.
From industry research we know that people delay seeking help when they are suffering with a debt problem, for example Christians Against Poverty found that a third of their clients had waited more than three years before seeking help.
Q: What part does Recoveries play in supporting customers in debt?
The Recoveries function manages a wide variety of different customer debt solutions, including; Debt Management Plans, Bankruptcies, Individual Voluntary Arrangements, Trust Deeds, Debt Arrangement Schemes and Debt Relief Orders to name a few! We are focused on ensuring our customers receive the right support for their circumstances and that they have a seamless journey into their chosen debt solution.
Q: What is this year’s Debt Awareness Week campaign all about?
Whether you need debt advice, or a bit of extra support before your debts become unmanageable, their message this year is: #changeyourdebtstory. Since their 2019 campaign, StepChange has developed new ways to support people. In 2020 they don’t just offer free debt advice and solutions for people who are experiencing a debt crisis. They also offer help for people who have a persistent debt on their credit card, store card or catalogue accounts and a money coaching service.
What can people do to support it?
Have you ever been in debt? Did it make you feel anxious, or ashamed? However you felt being in debt, someone else is almost certainly feeling the same way right now, especially with the current uncertain economic outlook. This year, StepChange are asking people to help end the stigma by posting a message of support. I’m supporting @StepChange #debtawarenessweek because I believe that no-one struggling with debt should have to pay for advice. #changeyourdebtstory’.
Q: What should people do if they’re worried about debts?
Whether you’re experiencing a debt crisis and need debt advice, or you’re simply worried about the persistent debt on your credit card, store card or catalogue account, visit https://www.stepchange.org/ to get free, impartial support.
They also have a Coronavirus hub with specific information for those worried about the impact of COVID-19 on their finances.