Mother tells how debt was ‘out of control’

Mark and Carol Pedroso, Hastings. SUS-140813-143552001
Mark and Carol Pedroso, Hastings. SUS-140813-143552001

A mother this week told how unmanageable debt, accumulated over more than 10 years to some £30,000, impacted on her family’s life.

Carol Pedroso, 33, explains how after first getting her first credit card when she was 19, her debt slowly began to spiral out of control.

She said: “I got into debt at university because I got a student credit card. Then I used credit cards to set up home, things like that. Then I got a loan to consolidate the debts and then another loan to pay that off and so on, and it started to get out of control.

“It got to the point where my husband and I were working more and more hours just to earn enough to pay the minimum. It got to the point where I was working between 60 and 80 hours a week and my husband, Mark, was working as many hours as he could while looking after our nine-year-old daughter just so we could break even. I used to look at the photo in my purse of my family and think ‘I have a family’ but I never saw them. I left the house before my daughter went to school and came home after she had went to bed. At one point we were spending £130 a month on food shopping for a family of three.”

When the situation became too much, Carol sought help from Hastings & St Leonards CAP Debt Centre, a service which offers free support and advice on how to manage problem debt. And after filing for bankruptcy earlier this year, the couple are now debt-free. In 2013, a partnership of seven churches in Hastings and St Leonards opened the CAP (Christians Against Poverty) Debt Centre. Natalie Williams, spokeswoman from one of the partner churches, said: “We opened the CAP Debt Centre a year ago because we knew there was a massive need in Hastings and St Leonards and that there are lot of people in the area with overwhelming debt. The reasons people get into debt are so varied. There are people who are working but don’t earn enough to keep up with the rising cost of living or there are maybe people, who although are managing from month to month, have to take out credit because their car has broken down or they need a new fridge or cooker and then debt starts to spiral out of control. Debt can be a crippling issue, not just financially but also emotionally and relationally.”

King’s Church, along with other churches in the area, helps run the town’s foodbank, located at the Hastings Centre on The Ridge, and Natalie says that 12 per cent of all people who have used the foodbank since it opened in April 2012, some 8,000 people, have done so because of debt. Other reasons people use food banks include benefit delays/changes, low income, homelessness and sickness.