Local people experiencing problems with debt in the wake of the Christmas period have been urged to seek help from local advice workers.
The call was made by Sinn Fein Councillor Patricia Logue as debt advisors in Derry brace themselves for an influx of people struggling with financial woes this month when Christmas bills start arriving.
Praising those working at the coalface at Dove House, Colr. Logue said: “January is a particularly difficult time of year for many families and single people in Derry. More and more people are finding themselves in debt that they have no realistic chance of repaying, due to the current economic downtown, and therefore finding it hard to pay basic household bills.
“I would advise anyone who finds themself in this situation to seek help with debt advisers straight away no matter how big or small their problem is, and to contact their local Credit Union. It is important that people who are overwhelmed by debt are given an opportunity to find a way out of their misery and get their lives back on track.”
Debt Action NI adviser Sean Doran and his colleagues across Derry and Strabane were last year presented with debts of more than £7m.
Mr Doran said that up until the introduction of new legislation in October to limit interest on pay-day loans they had been dealing with a lot of people with this type of debt. He said there were people locally going without heat and electricty and risking eviction and even jail in the process, in order to pay off other debts due to pressure from lenders.
“We try to stress that people have to make sure their rent, electrcity and heating are paid for before paying anything to the creditors. Anything that is left then we would look to that to see how these other debts can be addressed,” he said.
There are also currently a lot of people in rent arrears for Housing Executive and Housing Association properties locally, Mr Doran added.