Debt advice service boss: Seek expert help for financial concerns

Matt Dronfield, head of Debt Free London

Matt Dronfield, head of Debt Free London - Credit: Toynbee Hall

Getting expert help is crucial if you are worried about your finances, the boss of a debt advice service said.

We have launched the Your Money Matters campaign to offer practical advice and support around the cost of living crisis.

We will be profiling charities and organisations that can give assistance.

One of these is Debt Free London, a partnership of charities led by Toynbee Hall in Whitechapel, which has provided free financial advice to around 250,000 people across the capital.

It works with clients to prioritise bills and debts.

Matt Dronfield, head of Debt Free London, said it had seen a 250 per cent increase in calls to its advice helpline in the last 12 months.

Call handlers are available 24/7 during the current crisis to offer support and they can also be reached via WhatsApp.

Matt said: "Debt is more common than you think. One in nine Londoners have a problem debt they are worried about.

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"What's really important is to seek that independent, impartial advice.

"Getting that expert advice from somebody that knows what they're talking about - this is their job, there is no embarrassment here.

"They see it day in, day out and they will explain in a way that is understandable to the client."

Debt Free London has doubled the size of its advisor team during the pandemic.

Matt added: "They are all recruited from their local communities, they know the different cultures across London and the different taboo subjects."

The organisation has been operating for 16 years and Matt said its advisors tailor advice to each individual.

This includes knowing where to apply for support such as grants from local authorities.

Matt also said it was vital to be proactive if you have debt concerns.

"Just start the conversation, even if it's a WhatsApp conversation with one of our advisors. As soon as you start that, an advisor can guide you through the process and it feels a lot easier.

"The earlier people engage and seek that advice, the easier it's going be to support them and the sooner they will be able to work their way through it."

You can contact Debt Free London's free helpline on 0800 808 5700 or visit debtfree.london for more information.