Denise Beevers, Locality Service Manager at Doncaster Council, describes the Debt Counselling service available through the 12 Family Hubs in Doncaster.
‘Parents may come to the Family Hub and tell us they’re struggling financially – in arrears with the rent, for example, and at risk of being made homeless. We help families in this situation in several ways, addressing their urgent need by signposting to food banks but also addressing the bigger problem by helping them gain support through debt counselling, which is delivered by our partner organisations, Citizens Advice Bureau and Step Change. They will help families look at their budgeting, in terms of the benefits they have coming in and what they’re spending on, whether there are cheaper utility providers and whether they need to reconsider their priorities – and this can also involve a level of safeguarding as the Debt Counsellors and other professionals supporting the family assess whether the needs of the children are being prioritised.
‘Debt counselling is one of those services where getting to know the first family enables us to identify when debt counselling might be required. It’s not the kind of problem, most families talk about casually or openly. And in our Family Hubs, people feel accepted, not judged and able to talk about their deep-seated concerns. It’s not about simply having a service to offer people, it’s about having the right conversations, to find out the best way we can help.’