I came across The Children’s Society Debt Trap campaign last week during the UK Money Bloggers weekly live Twitter discussion, Monday Money.
It struck a nerve immediately, and to be honesty it brought back some hidden, painful memories.
The Debt Trap campaign is raising awareness surrounding the damage that debt can do to a child’s mental health.
A child is five times more likely to be unhappy living in a household with problem debt compared to those without.
The The Children’s Society Debt Trap is calling on the Government to create a breathing space for families, giving them time and space to repay the debt they owe without rising fees or visits from intimidating bailiffs.
So, you might be thinking by now, why does it bring up painful memories for me?
Quite simply, I was that child!
It was 1992, the UK was still in the biggest recession since the Second World War and my family’s life was about to change dramatically.
I remember coming out of school and seeing my mum waiting for me, it immediately struck me as strange, as by this point I was old enough to walk home by myself with my two brothers.
You see, we wouldn’t be going home that day, or any day for that matter, we had lost our house due to repossession.
My mum wasn’t particularly reckless with money, there just wasn’t enough of it coming in and add the massive rise in her mortgage interest rates to the equation and it became impossible to keep up with the payments bringing us up on her own.
Remember, these were the days before the minimum wage where you could be paid as little as £2.50 per hour working behind a bar, she didn’t stand a chance.
My brothers and I had absolutely no idea about her financial struggles until that day.
Mum sobbing her heart out trying to explain what had happened is something that will forever haunt me.
Moving in with my grandparents wasn’t an option as they lived too far away for us to be able to get to school everyday, so we were placed in temporary accommodation in a B&B, my mum and my two younger brothers in one room, me in a single next door.
Placed on the waiting list for a council house, it would be three horrible months before we were rehoused.
Dreading going into school the next day, I had concocted some elaborate story about how we had sold the house and the one we were buying had fell through and that’s why we needed to stay in temporary accommodation.
But, I needn’t have bothered.
Unbeknown to me, there was a sign stuck in our front window telling the neighbourhood what had happened – an official notice of repossession slap bang in the middle of our living room window!
Some of my friends had come knocking that day, noticed the whitewashed windows and and the sign and the news spread like wild fire.
I walked into class to hear everyone discussing it, I wanted the ground to open up and swallow me whole, I was absolutely mortified.
The moment break time arrived I literally walked off the premises, teachers were chasing me all around the estate trying to get me back in school – I was already starting to go off the rails after just one morning.
I’m not the type of person who cries when they’re feeling down, I get angry, not as much these days, but certainly as a child.
This type of behaviour carried on for the next year until I drove my mum to breaking point.
Watching her break down in tears with my teacher was the kick in the ass I needed, I couldn’t believe I’d upset my own mum so much and I started to settle down a bit.
The crazy thing is, it never even occurred to me at the time it anything to do with the repossession.
It was affecting my mental health and my education, I was just 11 years old and didn’t fully understand why I was behaving like that.
We finally moved on Christmas Eve that year, you’d think that would be stressful, it was utter relief in reality.
When I look back on that situation now I can see what it really did to me.
Us Taylor’s don’t give much away, we’re not talkers when it comes to issues and problems we find ourselves with, we close ranks and crack on.
My mental health suffered as a consequence of what happened.
Could it have been avoided?
The house was gone, we knew that, it would be a while before it sold so why make three children and a single mother move out?
Giving my family the breathing space, The Children’s Society Debt Trap campaign is looking for, in this instance would have made a massive difference.
We could have moved out when a council house had become available, rather than a B&B with addicts and petty thieves (my bike was stolen whilst we were staying there!)
The annoying thing is the house didn’t sell for another four months after we had left the B&B, we could have stayed and still been out in time for the new owners to move in.
It was horrendous for my mum, she didn’t need that on top of everything else she was going through, which is why she is and always will be my hero, standing strong no matter what cards life dealt her.
How you can help with The Children’s Society Debt Trap campaign
I’m asking you all for a small favour.
We need as many people as possible to sign the petition and show their support for a breathing space to help prevent the damage that debt is doing to children, and encourage your friends, family and colleagues to do the same!
Please share this article to help The Children’s Society Debt Trap campaign, your help can make all the difference.
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