Everyone knows that January can be a tough month. The post-Christmas blues and the often miserable weather combine to leave many feeling down and struggling to cope.
I also know from my constituency post bag that a number of problems come to a head in the New Year, including drink, divorce and debt.
Debt is an issue that gets raised with me most weeks. But it’s often in the New Year when it really bites. Many people, even if they have a job, are struggling to make ends meet – not through carelessness, but just because their wages aren’t keeping up with their costs.
Fortunately, many people now know to avoid pay-day lenders who charge extortionate rates of interest and often just pull people into an endless spiral of debt.
However, for some, these companies appear to offer a quick fix solution by merging a number of debts into one. But I have met countless people who have fallen foul of these predatory companies, and discovered that all they really offer is more misery and greater expense.
That is why I again take the opportunity to encourage those who are struggling to deal with debt to consider the South Yorkshire Credit Union as an alternative. They provide help with affordable loans and accessible savings and offers an excellent alternative to high-cost credit. They will also help anyone struggling to manage their budget, with helpful and practical advice. If you’re in debt they are the people to go and talk to.
It’s also worth keeping in mind that The Citizens’ Advice Bureau (CAB) is there to provide really useful advice to people on debt-related issues, as well as a range of other concerns.
Both organisations are staffed by local people, mostly volunteers - really decent people who have a wealth of experience which they just want pass on to Barnsley people. They do outstanding work which we must applaud.
Despite the gloom that January can so often bring, we should still be upbeat about the future! There is much in our town to be proud of – though there are undoubtedly real challenges ahead, we shouldn’t lose sight of the fact that Barnsley is a great place to live, go to school and work. Let’s never forget that!
This article was first published in the Barnsley Chronicle on 31st December 2015.