Save our CAB campaign: Catherine, from Alveston, opens up to the Gazette about losing her job and struggling with debt
SLEEPLESS nights and restless days spent torturing herself over debt and payment deadlines are what Catherine’s life came down to when she lost her job out of the blue two years ago.
Feeling inadequate and ashamed by what she perceived as a personal failure, the 55-year-old grandmother from Alveston hid her predicament from her family and friends until she discovered a solution to her financial straits.
While everyone around her was none the wiser, she dug herself deeper and deeper into debt.
She spent countless hours on the phone with her bank and creditors, transferred from one department to another, all in vain.
Finally, on the brink of despair, she confided in a friend who suggested she seek help from Thornbury’s Citizens Advice Bureau.
Two years on, Catherine believes she would not and could not have pulled through without the charity’s guidance.
"I was in financial difficulty; obviously it was embarrassing," she told the Gazette. "I was not able to pay my debts. I struggled and struggled. I didn’t want to tell my family or anybody and I got into even more debt.
"I was trying to pay rent. You can’t sleep at night and you’ve got all these worries. I got very depressed. I worked all my life and I didn’t know which way to turn."
Not only did CAB staff have "all the answers", the right advice and contacts but, most important of all for Catherine, they did not judge or apportion blame. And as her mounds of debt slowly began diminishing, so did her feelings of helplessness.
"I met a volunteer Jeff Thomas and from day one he took the pressure off me," she said. "Without him I don’t know what I would have done. He said ‘Don’t worry we will sort it out’. He didn’t judge me. He went to everybody I owed money to and told them about my situation."
Although still in debt and gradually paying her creditors back two years on, Catherine, who is now retired, is confident that with the CAB’s continued support she will be able to stay afloat.
"I really don’t know where I would be right now if it weren’t for them," she said.
"There is a mound of information there. If they can’t do something they will tell you who can. And they are non-judgmental."
The Gazette’s Save our CAB campaign was launched to ensure that people like Catherine are not left in the lurch when hardship befalls them.
Locals donated a whopping £1,880 to the appeal this week, putting the charity in good stead to secure the £12,000 it needs by the end of May to continue running in Thornbury and bringing our fundraising total to £2,395.
There are many ways readers can help support the Gazette's Save our CAB campaign.
We are looking for groups, schools, businesses and individuals to organise fundraising events.
The Gazette will be happy to publicise any event organised as part of the campaign.
Alternatively you can complete the Gazette's Save our CAB campaign coupon and return it with a donation.
We would like to hear from people who have been helped by the CAB. To share your experience email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 01453 540214.