Posted: 28 February 2017

Thinking Thrifty: how the #DebtTrap affected my mental health

Our guest blogger, David Jack Taylor, founder of Thinking Thrifty, shares his painful memories of growing up in a home with problem debt

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.

But we wouldn’t be going home that day, or any day for that matter. We had lost our house due to repossession.

My brothers and I had absolutely no idea about her financial struggles until that day.

David Jack Taylor

David Jack Taylor supporting our Breathing Space Campaign

Mum sobbing her heart out trying to explain what had happened is something that will forever haunt me. My mum wasn’t reckless with money, there just wasn’t enough of it coming in as a single mum and after a massive rise in the mortgage interest rates it became impossible to keep up with the payments. These were the days before the minimum wage when you could be paid as little as £2.50 per hour working behind a bar. She didn’t stand a chance.

the situation was affecting my mental health and my education

Moving in with my grandparents wasn’t an option as they lived too far away. So we were placed in temporary accommodation in a B&B. My mum and my two younger brothers were in one room and I was in a single room next door. We were on the waiting list for a council house but it would be three horrible months before we were rehoused.

Social stigma

Dreading going into school the next day, I had concocted an 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.

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Ask your MP to publicly back our plans to give families in debt a breathing space

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 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 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 was so angry.

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 wakeup call I needed. I couldn’t believe I’d upset my own mum so much and I started to settle down a bit.

It never even occurred to me at the time that it had anything to do with the repossession.

But the situation 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 into our new home on Christmas Eve that year. It was an utter relief.

Breathing Space T-shirt

Looking back

When I look back on that situation now I can see what it really did to me. My mental health suffered as a consequence of what happened.

Could it have been avoided?

Yes, absolutely.

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 a breathing space would have made a massive difference. We could have moved out when a council house had become available. The house didn’t sell for another four months after we had left the B&B, so 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. She is and always will be my hero.

Ask your MP to support our Debt Trap campaign

Please take a minute to ask your MP to support our Debt Trap campaign.

We need as many MPs as possible to show their support for a breathing space to help prevent the damage that debt is doing to children.

ask your Mp to publicly back the debt trap campaign

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