There have been some big changes for New Zealanders this year due to COVID-19.
Whilst many employees have been fortunate enough to be paid 100% of their wages during the lockdown, there are countless others whose incomes have been adversely affected.
Presbyterian Support Otago’s Building Financial Capability service is well-placed to keep up-to-date with what financial assistance is available and for whom. Our Financial Mentors are experienced and can help clients work through their options and plan strategies to help them manage their finances in the longer-term.
Nancy McMillan, our Financial Mentor in Queenstown, tells this story:
“I have a client, Rebecca, who has had some very hard times over the years. In her late-50s, Rebecca had been in rehab for many weeks, and on leaving, moved into a house which she shared with many others. During this same period, Rebecca was not able to work due to an injury.
After a few weeks, Rebecca was asked to leave the house, and with nowhere else to go slept under some bushes for a few frosty nights. At the same time, a debt recovery agency called me regarding a past debt that they wanted Rebecca to pay off in regular instalments."
With all these challenges, Rebecca was struggling mentally. With Nancy’s help, Rebecca received the following support:
- Vouchers for groceries, as Rebecca had spent all her money on blankets
- Advocacy with the debt collection agency regarding Rebecca’s situation and inability to re-pay the debt
- Referral to a social service agency who could support Rebecca to find stable accommodation
- Referral to a mental health and addiction agency to support Rebecca’s return to good health
- Budget advice to help Rebecca manage her finances and understand the impacts of the financial decisions she makes
- Set up of automatic payments to ensure bills are paid and debt is re-paid
Rebecca still has problems and sometimes struggles to cope, but, with good supports in place, and knowing she has choices, she is becoming more confident in managing her finances and understanding the consequences of her decisions.
And the debt?
Nancy received a phone call from the debt collection agency, and was told that after reading Rebecca’s history, and following a discussion with Rebecca (supported by Nancy), they were going to wipe the debt. Rebecca, and Nancy were thrilled.
Lee-Anne Michelle, Financial Mentor in South Otago says:
The biggest piece of advice our Financial Mentors offer to anyone who is experiencing financial hardship is to reach out for help. “If you are worried about your financial situation, talk to one of our Financial Mentors.
They can help you talk to your bank about mortgage challenges, your landlord if you’re struggling to pay the rent, loan providers if you need a repayment holiday or to vary the payments or terms under the hardship provision, look at schemes to help pay your power bill, assist with budget advice and planning for the future, and help access Community Finance (low- and no-interest loans) to help with purchasing need-to-have items. Asking for help isn’t shameful, it’s sensible.”
WANT TO ENQUIRE?
Financial Mentors and the Community Finance Service can be contacted on 03 477 7116 or by emailing: