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Leeds elderly trapped in a devastating cycle of debt

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Trapped in a devastating cycle of despair one elderly lady in Leeds was forced to survive on just one microwave meal a day - costing just ONE POUND each.

The pensioner, who suffered from osteoarthritis and required two walking sticks, found herself saddled with £14,500 provident debt from a door-step collector.

At her lowest point she was forced to use a blanket to stay warm. She had to switch between using her gas and electricity supply because she simply could not afford to have them both on at the same time.

Sadly she is not alone when it comes to suffering sleepless nights because of her money worries.

An 87-year-old lady took out a £200 payday loan to help fix her broken washing machine.

She didn’t understand the terms and couldn’t pay back the loan within 28 days.

She ended up paying nearly £2,200 in a desperate attempt to clear her debts.

Luckily, the two women found the help and support they needed to break their cycle of despair.

Heartbreaking figures show that nearly four in 10 single pensioner households are spiralling into a cycle of fuel poverty.

And the amount of problem debt among older people with unsecured debts has started to increase.

Experts suggest that “younger older” people are more used to credit cards and borrowing than older pensioners.

And for older people trying to manage debt the impact can be particularly devastating especially on their health and quality of life.

Leeds Community Foundation’s YEP-backed Winter Warmth campaign smashed through its £50,000 target earlier this year to support groups working with old people in the city during the coldest months of the year.

A new report by the Foundation reveals thousands of elderly people in Leeds are facing a daily struggle with intense loneliness.

And it warns the number of people living alone in Leeds over the age of 65 is predicted to rise by more than a third over the next 15 years.

The news comes as Leeds bids for millions of pounds of special grant funding to help offer support to some of the city’s most vulnerable elderly residents.

MONEY BUDDIES HERE TO HELP

They are the friendly faces who reach out and offer support to people at their lowest points.

The specialist Money Buddies scheme at Ebor Gardens Advice Centre, in Leeds, have helped to clear thousands of pounds worth of debt for anxious pensioners.

And they are hoping that their award-winning scheme will be rolled out across the entire city.

Sylvia Simpson from the initiative said: “We are like your very own money friends who are there to help.

“We often find that elderly people don’t want to come forward and talk about debt because there is a stigma.

“It is only when they start to receive legal letters that it frightens them to get advice.

“Often when people come to us they will be vulnerable because they don’t know what their rights are.

“But they come out smiling and it looks as though the weight of the world has been lifted off their shoulders because there is something they can do.”

 

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