herald

Monday 18 December 2017

One in five now need help over debt self-harm

AN alarming one-in-five people seeking help from an Irish service over their debts have been driven to self-harm.

The Phoenix Project New Beginnings, which provides professional support and advice to people in financial difficulties, said that it dealt with 2,000 queries nationwide last year.

A staggering 82pc related to mortgage arrears, however, most couples or individuals approaching the service last year had a "multiplicity of debt, with arrears on their family home as well as second properties, personal loans, credit cards, cars and leases", its figures showed.

The organisation provides financial advice and assistance to people who are encountering difficulties. It provides accountants and solicitors to help people deal with financial institutions, revenue, credit unions and other creditors.

The registered charity has now drawn up a "new beginnings policy document", which it has submitted to the Department of Finance, outlining its response to the debt crisis. It includes its proposals on how family homes can be saved.

A meeting has already been held between the body and the Department, with another scheduled again in the next couple of weeks. The report will be launched during March, according to a spokesman for the Phoenix Project. It includes proposals and statistics, giving a true account of what is happening on the ground.

He added that the debt crisis is affecting people across the spectrum including sole traders, self-employed people and also professionals.

"Everything is private and confidential," he said about the service. He explained that sometimes people cannot cope themselves, and need help to deal with their creditors on their behalf.

One in 20 distressed borrowers using the service has already self-harmed.

The service does have an in-house counsellor, which helps people gain strength and helps them become clear minded.

It provides a nationwide service and is free of charge to the public. Accountants, solicitors, counsellors and general support staff work voluntarily with the charity.

For further details see www.phoenixproject.ie.

fdillon@herald.ie

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