There With You: Plaistow based debt advice service sees rise in demand from the ‘most vulnerable’

Members of Money A+E's staff who have seen a significant increase in demand for their help. Picture:

Members of Money A+E's staff who have seen a significant increase in demand for their help. Picture: Money A+E - Credit: Archant

A debt and benefits advice service has seen demand soar as the financial effects of the coronavirus crisis bite.

Money A+E, based in Avenons Road, Plaistow, is fundraising to help provide a lifeline to people using its services which are now delivered via telephone or video.

Head of advice, Rosie Leach, said: “Our service is on the frontline of the financial crisis caused by Covid-19 and the lockdown.

“Our clients are already among the most vulnerable in society, and they have felt the effects of this crisis disproportionately.

“With little to no savings or safety net to fall back on, the loss in income has been devastating for many.”

The social enterprise has gone from seeing 20 to 24 clients per week to 50 to 60, many of whom are either unable to work due to lockdown restrictions or were sacked rather than being furloughed.

The communities served by Money A+E have been hit especially hard with many struggling with debt or having little to no savings to fall back on.

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This has been made worse in many cases, and particularly among migrant communities, by social isolation or language barriers.

Among its work, Money A+E’s team is helping to get arrangements in place with creditors or landlords, including cases where eviction is threatened.

Its advisers are also supporting clients making claims for universal credit as well as for the advance payments and loans available to cover the five week-long wait for the first benefit payment.

And Money A+E’s staff fear funds set aside for emergency grants to cover household costs or utility bills could soon become exhausted. A £20,000 fundraiser has been set up to help.

Advisers work part-time but are currently going the extra mile to support clients while management monitor staff for signs of burn-out.

Rosie said: “We are proud to be able to provide support but our service simply does not have the capacity required to keep up with the surge in demand.

“We welcome the measures to support the charity sector just announced by the chancellor, however, the precise level and timing of funding to organisations such as ours remains unclear.

“We urgently need more support, now, so that we can continue to protect those who might otherwise face destitution.”

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