Earlier this week The Derry Journal exclusively revealed the level of debt, organisation Debt Action NI dealt with in Derry and Strabane.
From September 1, 2013 to August 31, 2014 Debt Action NI dealt with 298 clients in Derry with their debt amounting to £4,996,985.85 covering 833 debts.
For the same period of time, Debt Action NI in Strabane worked with 152 clients with their debt amounting to £2.1m covering 382 debts.
Debt Action NI is based out of Dove House in Derry and they have two full time debt advisors; one of which is based in the Waterside. Debt Action NI is also based in Abbey Street in Strabane.
“We’ve found that debt is a consequence of unemployment and many of our clients would be from very low incomes,” said Sean McCallion.
“We deal with the issue of unemployment on a daily basis and believe me, it’s getting worse in Derry. But the thing we want people out there to know is that they always have options. When people lose their jobs they often fall behind on payments and bills etc. It’s through no fault of their own that people find themselves in that position but they should know that organisations like Debt Action NI are out there to help and support,” added Sean.
Michael Lyttle, who operates out of the Debt Action NI office in Strabane said he noticed similarities with Derry’s unemployment situation in Strabane.
“There’s a lack of jobs out there and like Sean said, people who are used to certain amount of income take on certain bills etc. If they no longer have the money to pay those bills that’s when they get into debt.
“I’ve had clients come to me who are suicidal because they can’t get the work to pay off their debts. The situation in Derry and Strabane is very serious and it needs to be tackled as a matter of urgency.”
To speak to a Debt Action NI advisor telephone Dove House - 028 7126 9327; Crescent Community and Cultural Centre 028 71 277 143; Hillcrest House - 028 71 277 143 and Strabane 028 71 884 307.