By Sarah-Jayne Dunn

During March the Citizens Advice Network, in light of the rising cost of living crisis which is hitting many families across Scotland, is running a campaign reaching out to anyone struggling financially to seek money and debt advice.

As a former money adviser, I know the value of speaking to someone when you are struggling with bills and debt. With a rise in energy bills, the end of furlough and the Universal Credit cut, many people are spiralling into debts they simply cannot manage.

So, to anyone who is worried about making ends meet and paying their bills or debt repayments, I urge you to come and talk to the Citizens Advice network who stand ready and able to help you.

However, I also wanted to make a separate plea to those who may have already taken that step in the past and sought debt advice but for some reason or other didn’t see it through to the end.

Believe it or not, this is extremely common. Many clients I have supported in the past lead complex and challenging lives which impact on their need for debt advice. And in my career as a money adviser, I would routinely see clients who dropped out, only to return when their situation has worsened, or they didn’t know what else to do.

It is recognised that reaching out for support when you are struggling is a massive step. I have found that for many clients, the debt process can be overwhelming, and they just weren’t ready for it. For others, after seeking initial advice, they want to face their debt issues on their own and that is their choice. A good money adviser will try to equip you with as many self-help tools to make this a reality.

Now this can seem like a strange concept for some to grapple because for many people seeking advice, it is the life raft they have needed and will cling to it for dear life so to think of letting it go seems unthinkable.

But what I want to stress to those who sought advice in the past and now need our support again, our door is always open. No matter the reason why you may not have followed through with the debt advice process in the past, whether you just weren’t ready or felt you were able to do it alone. No matter the reason, help is always at hand in your local Citizens Advice Bureau.

We have highly skilled advisers giving expert debt advice and can support you every step of the way through the debt advice process as and when you are ready. Our advisers are sympathetic, non-judgemental and will talk you through your options whether that is speaking to your creditors, helping you reduce your repayments or even seeking to write off some of your debts. They will also look at ways to boost your income, make savings and cut the cost of daily living. Our advice will always be free, confidential and impartial. No matter how many times you return for advice, you will never have to pay to receive debt advice. So, don’t suffer in silence, come and talk to us. We are ready to help you.

Sarah-Jayne Dunn is policy manager at Citizens Advice Scotland.