FRONTLINE DEBT ADVICE update - June 2012
Spring 2012: A story of the times
Our advisers can spend a lot of their time making complaints on behalf of clients to creditors and Ombudsman services, when clients are not afforded the service that regulations and codes of practice state they should receive. Occasionally our efforts can contribute towards codes of practice/regulations being amended to the benefit of the general public.
In one case a client who we had requested have money deducted directly from their benefit to repay a water debt, was still taken to court to recover the debt by Southern Water. At first Southern Water was insistent that the client was responsible for chasing up the benefit authorities, (even though clients often cannot afford the cost of phone calls to the benefit authorities) but after we complained to the Ombudsman, Southern Water agreed to change their policy so that they would always chase up the benefit authorities to avoid any unnecessary court action that serves only to add costs to our clients’ debts.
It is heartening to know we can affect policy that brings justice to all, as well as make a difference to individual lives.
New Advice Centre - Lordshill
In our last newsletter I said we were looking to start a new advice centre over on the west side of Southampton. Oasis have agreed that we can use some space in their community hub in Lordshill on a Tuesday. I am going to be helping Richard run this new venture, which we hope will be up and running in the next few weeks. As the community hub has links with the Oasis school and hosts a number of community services the potential to reach needy families in the area is exciting. The Community hub linked to the Oasis school on the east side of the city is also interested in hosting a debt advice service.
We recently welcomed Linden to our team in Swaythling. He is currently doing the introduction training and shadowing other advisers. We look forward to seeing how God is going to use him and are very grateful for his willingness to give up his time despite having a new job.
Through my work as a Debt Relief Order intermediary and the putting on of training sessions I have become more involved in the life of Frontline offices in Hampshire. At the same time I have felt the Lord give me a burden to see something start in Portsmouth, a city in which there seems to be surprisingly little debt advice. Others in Frontline also carry this burden but as of yet no opportunities to start something there have come our way.
The Ministry of Justice has just closed it’s consultation on “Transforming Bailiff action”. Having had many clients coming for help to deal with Bailiffs, I lodged a response to this consultation, calling on bailiffs to more reasonably consider offers made through debt advice centres if they had not previously failed to keep to an arrangement made through a debt advice centre. We are also looking for a standardisation of bailiff fees that more accurately reflect their costs and a greater transparency too.
Sponsored walk/treasure hunt - winchester
We are planning on using some of the sights of Winchester to stage a sponsored walk/treasure hunt in September. The aim will be to raise awareness of and funding for Frontline. We will be starting and finishing from Christ Church, which hosts one of the Frontline debt advice centres. Winchester has a number of interests that have a link to our work, e.g debtors prison, almshouses, colleges setup for the education of the poor. So we hope that rather than just try and raise funds people can come and learn more about what we do.
An example of some recent feedback:
“Thank you so much, for helping me and informing me, answering my questions and giving very helpful advice. Your service frontline has really helped me a lot today. I found him (my adviser) very calm and extremely pleasant and enormously helpful.”
If you know someone in the Southampton area who may need our help then please ask them to phone us on the number below. We generally meet with clients on a Monday or Wednesday between 9.30am and 3pm, but we can sometimes make appointments on other days. The Frontline website gives details of other offices in the South that can help
Please pray that:
- Our new office in Lordshil will soon be reaching those in the local community who really need the help and a doorway will be opened for a new centre in Portsmouth.
- Bailiff law would be transformed so that a fairer, simpler system of fees are charged and clients are better informed as to their rights.
- Linden will get to grips with the training and enjoy the work.
- We would hear what the Lord is saying about funding, and act on it.
Thank you to all those who regularly support us with prayer and finance. Please get in touch with me if you would like to make a donation.