A Wrekin tenant who feared he would be made homeless due to spiralling debt has said he can now look forward to the future after reaching out for help.
John McGrath, 56, from Church Aston, had worked as a lorry driver and never thought he would find himself in financial hardship, until a period of illness forced him to give up work.
With ongoing health complications and mounting bills, John’s savings were soon used up and he began to fall behind on payments.
Despite his struggles, John said his pride initially held him back from asking for help.
But that all changed when he was referred to the Wrekin Housing Group’s Money Matters team. The team offers a free and dedicated money advice service – helping customers tackle debt, access grants and benefits and support with budgeting advice.
John said: “When you’re ill you don’t want to think about bills and you don’t want to think about anything really.
“I was in trouble with everything and they came out to see what I needed.”
John said he was “sceptical” when Chloe Ramsay from the Money Matters team first arrived at his home, but his doubts were soon forgotten.
He said: “She took the weight straight off, I felt at ease straight away.”
Chloe worked with John to help tackle his debt – looking at the amount he was spending each month.
She was then able help John access benefits he had not previously been claiming, applied for grants on his behalf and set up payment plans.
She also picked up food parcels for him when he was too ill to leave the house, helped him access NHS dental treatment to boost his confidence, and referred him to other agencies.
John said: “I had issues with my council tax, I had issues with my water, my gas, electric, everything, and they’ve solved it.”
John has now been able to clear his debt – and in the process has improved his health, lost seven stone and gained a new outlook on life.
He said: “She’s given me foresight to move forward instead of just sitting on my backside.
“If ever I’ve got a problem I just get on to Chloe, and Chloe will see what she can do to put it right. It’s been brilliant, absolutely brilliant.
“They’ve completely changed my view on life. I was sceptical about letting people in but I let people in now.”
Without the help of the Money Matters team, John said he would probably have found himself on the streets as he had fallen behind on his rent, but thanks to Chloe’s help he is back on top of his finances.
He now wants to encourage other Wrekin tenants in a similar position to ask for help.
He said: “Pick the phone up and ring the professionals. It’s a game changer, it really is.
“I really was in a mess, and I’m not now. I can put my head back where it was and look up instead of looking down.
“Let your guard down. The whole team, they point you in the right direction and get you where you need to be – I’m proof.”
Wrekin are still supporting John whenever he needs it but he has come a long way since their first meeting.
Chloe said: “John should give himself more credit for how hard he has worked to turn his situation around.
“He has a much better grasp of things now, so when we talk about things he is already on top of it and knows what to do.
“He is a new man. He is so much more confident and a lot happier.”