Chesterfield man thanks Citizens Advice for 'saving his life' after clearing his £20,000 debt
A Chesterfield man who racked up £20,000 worth of debt after suffering from depression when his mother died, has thanked Citizens Advice for ‘saving his life’.
Martin Skerritt, 57, from Clay Cross is unable to work due to acute mental health issues such as depression, anxiety and PTSD and started buying mobile phones and tablets on credit after his mother died six years ago.
Sheila Shaw passed away suddenly from cancer on November 10, 2014 and her son found himself turning to alcohol as a coping mechanism for his grief along with buying and selling gadgets as a way to fund his addiction that plunged him into nearly £20,000 worth of debt.
Two years ago, Martin contacted the National Debtline and was then referred to Citizens Advice North East Derbyshire who applied for a debt relief order to get his bills written off as he had no means of paying them.
Martin said: "Me and my mother were incredibly close.
"My mum left me some money and I became dependent on alcohol because I couldn't face the pain and when the money ran out I started getting a lot of stuff on credit and selling stuff.
"Everything I had was for one purpose only and that was to buy booze to keep me alive."
The 57-year-old is now alcohol and debt free after receiving help from Derbyshire Recovery Service and has thanked Citizens Advice, particularly money adviser Amy Wallace for helping him clear his debts.
"It was just a weight lifted off my shoulders, it was just a delight to be honest", Martin added.
"I rung Amy and I told her ‘you saved my life’.
Citizens Advice North East Derbyshire has helped 5,410 people with 21,924 problems from debt, housing, benefit and employment issues in the last year.
The service has 29 volunteers which contribute 180 hours each week.
Citizens Advice has applauded their volunteers for their ‘tireless support’ throughout the Covid-19 pandemic which has seen an ‘unprecedented’ increase in demand for its services.
Services moved online during the ongoing coronavirus crisis, to offer support and advice through the phone and online web chats.
Telephone adviser Kate started volunteering for the North East Derbyshire branch six months ago.
They said: "After being made redundant I joined Citizens Advice as a remote volunteer as I was interested in helping my local community and for the opportunity to be part of a charity that plays such an important role in helping people find a way forward with their problems, particularly through the pandemic.
"It’s a very rewarding role and I would encourage anyone thinking about volunteering to give it a go – for me it has been a very rewarding experience and would be the same for anyone who is passionate about giving something back and helping their local community.”
Chief officer at Citizens Advice North East Derbyshire Gillian Sladen commented: “Our wonderful team of volunteers dedicate their time and skills to ensure that people in North East Derbyshire and Bolsover can get support in their time of need.
“I’m particularly proud of the immense dedication they’ve shown during this pandemic - with many working from living rooms and kitchens to keep the service running.
"We simply couldn’t do it without them.”
Anyone interested in volunteering should contact Leanne Smith via [email protected]