Posted: 17 November 2016

Jakes Journey: One child’s experience of problem debt

Falling into problem debt

Jake lives with his parents and sister. Both his parents are in low paid jobs. They receive some benefits but money is still quite tight, and over time they have taken on various debts. 

They were making minimum payments on their debts so were managing until Jake’s mum had to go on maternity leave. Statutory maternity pay and his dad’s income together were not enough to keep up with payments, and their debts began to spiral out of control. 

Living with problem debt

Jake’s family is left with just enough money to cover the basics each month, but even so they receive phone calls about late fees and interest charges on their debts. They have to make a lot of compromises. Jake doesn’t get to socialise with his friends anymore as he can’t afford the bus fare to go and see them.

Emotional consequences           

Jake is very conscious of the household budget. He hates having to ask his parents for money even for his lunch, worrying that he is taking too much. His parents are always stressed nowadays, and this makes him feel anxious about what is going to happen to them, as well as causing arguments in the family.

Jake feels like his friends get to do whatever they want, whilst his family’s choices are significantly restricted. He’s sad that he’s stuck at home with nothing to do and feels like he’s losing his connection with his friendship group.

a)    Without a Breathing Space

Over the next year the debt becomes completely unmanageable despite Jake’s mum going back to work. Jake’s parents are being constantly harassed by creditors, and one afternoon a bailiff turns up, scaring him and his little sister and threatening his mum with eviction.

Jake feels completely useless for not being able to help his family. He feels anxious, sad and alone.

b)   With a Breathing Space

Jake’s family have been put on the Breathing Space scheme. Extra fees and charges have stopped piling up, and his parents have been put on a debt repayment plan. Now they just make one affordable payment each month and aren’t hassled by creditors all the time.

Jake’s parents are a lot more relaxed now, and this makes him feel much less anxious. His family has more money each month and he gets to see his friends again.

Jake’s mum is going back to work, and the family’s finances are well on their way to being back on track.



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Breathing space: The impact of money worries on children's mental health

Posted: 16 September 2016


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