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Businesses & individuals across MEA Borough Council area urged to avail of free debt advice

Pictured, Mid & East Antrim Community Advice Services’ Gary Hillis.

Families, individuals and business owners based across the Mid and East Antrim Borough Council area experiencing debt or financial issues are being urged to connect with the free and confidential support available to them.

The pandemic has created a climate for debt. Since March 2020, the Northern Ireland Statistics and Research Agency (NISRA) has recorded over 10,000 proposed redundancies, its highest annual total on record.*

In addition, the unemployment rate rose to 3.6% in the last quarter of 2020 and many households are turning to benefits for the first time, with the claimant count currently at over 60,000.**

Advice NI, Northern Ireland’s largest advice network, is comprised of 69 member organisations. Any individual or business in the Mid and East Antrim Borough Council area in need of financial advice, particularly when it comes to navigating debt, is encouraged to contact Mid & East Antrim Community Advice Services.

Mid & East Antrim Community Advice Services Manager, Michele Campbell, said:

“The burden of debt is being shouldered by more people than ever before. The pandemic has prompted circumstances to change, with many households falling behind on essential bills and using credit cards to make debt repayments. Fuel poverty and food banks are becoming a feature of local towns.

“However, solutions and support are available. Our highly trained Specialist Debt Advisers, Gareth Hughes and Shane Moffett, are here to talk through your situation, provide you with options and help you through the process of becoming debt-free. Our service always offers free, confidential, non-judgmental and quality advice.

“If you are struggling with debt during the pandemic and this extended lockdown, you don’t have to face it alone. You can contact us on 02896001333.”

Advice NI and its member network across Northern Ireland dealt with over half a million enquiries in 2019/20. During 2020, its debt service dealt with over £28m of debt in more than 7,500 agreements and anticipates that 2021 is set to be an equally challenging year for people, with the effects of the pandemic still being felt.

These free, confidential, and impartial Debt & Money services are funded by the Department for Communities and ultimately aim to help clients to ‘free their future,’ supporting them to address their financial issues head on.

Key actions when it comes to dealing with debt include:

• Seek advice quickly

• Don’t ignore the problem

• Create a monthly budget

• Contact your lenders

For more debt advice, contact: