According to government statistics parts of Newton Aycliffe and surrounding areas are considered to be amongst the highest areas of deprivation in England in respect of employment, income, education and health. 1 in 3 people that contacted the Aycliffe “Helping Hands” team have either thought about suicide or have already tried to take their own lives. These are shocking statistics don’t you think?
For those living comfortable lives it may be hard to think of a time when we could ever be in need of other people’s help, however life is unpredictable and we can never tell when we might be in need of assistance to get our lives back on track.
For those struggling with redundancy, breakdown in relationships or difficult times caused by benefit reforms, Helping Hands offer support to those in crisis to reach self sufficiency by placing household packs directly into the homes of those in need.
Unemployment can lead to high debt situations, which unfortunately can lead to other problems and they sadly can have a devastating effect on families. Helping Hands aims to support those through these difficult times to help create a positive future for all not only through the household packs but through our registered charity ‘Lifeline Community Action’ providing money education courses, job clubs and training for other relevant courses. For some, this assistance has literally been life saving.
Helping Hands Manager Alwyn White says “We are passionate about assisting people to get out of debt and poverty. Thousands of people have already found some hope and a solution. Debt and social isolation usually go hand in hand it is not just about getting your finances sorted but about getting you speaking to people again and getting your coping mechanisms working again.”
Our services are offered totally free of charge because our funders care about people in our communities who are suffering and they want to help in some way. ‘Lifeline Community Action’ has a very strong emphasis on social action
Mum of four Andrea was unable to cope with the stress of debts and finally ended up on anti-depressants to help her cope. Andrea says “When I first saw the Helping Hands article in Newton News just over a year ago I finally decided to meet a Helping Hands adviser. I recall it being quite emotional as I never thought anyone could help in the ways they did, also they never criticised me or made me feel stupid for the situation I found myself in”
That meeting was the beginning of an eventful journey for me and my family. I took the money management course, the Job Club and various other learning and development courses. I am now a key volunteer for Helping Hands, which I love doing as I want to give something back and see others given hope in their difficult situations.
I’ve learnt so much as people from diverse backgrounds come in for help. It is very easy to dismiss those caught in the debt trap as being self-indulgent, careless or just plain irresponsible, but the reality is that debt is a very easy trap to fall into.
Young people are inundated with offers of credit cards, bank accounts, overdraft facilities, store cards etc and through lack of experience in managing credit, many of them run up debts of several hundred pounds. Even families who have managed their finances well in the past are at risk. It takes only a short period of illness without sick pay to put rent into arrears. A sudden bereavement, the break up of a marriage or the loss of a job can plunge a family into serious debt.
Andrea concludes, “The good news is I no longer take anti-depressants and this year will be our first family holiday for 17 years. Last week I accompanied Alwyn to receive the County Council Chairman’s Medal for the charities outstanding work and was astounded! While the hard work of the volunteers and the generous donations given so far have made a difference to so many lives, there are many more still in need of help.
Helping Hands has helped thousands of people in the last year and distributed goods to the value of over £500,000. This allows those who are struggling to concentrate on tackling their bills and reducing debts.