Debt happens.

When you think about it, it’s a common part of life for many people. Millions of people have mortgages, car finance, credit cards and loans. When it’s well planned, used appropriately, and paid back on time, it can be beneficial.

But there’s a difference between debt and problem debt.

Debt becomes a problem when you can no longer keep up with your repayments, when it becomes unmanageable, or when you find you’re having to take out more debt to pay your existing debts.

It’s an easy spiral to get stuck in, and around 50% of people will wait over a year before seeking debt advice, by which point their situation could have escalated.

For Debt Awareness Week 2024, StepChange is focusing on the most common barriers to seeking debt advice, and how to tackle them.

Barrier 1 – Not understanding what debt advice is

One of the most common things StepChange hear from the people they work with is they didn’t understand that debt advice can actually help them deal with their debts. This is common amongst people who aren’t used to having money worries, and the best way to tackle this is to talk.

If you’d like to find out more about StepChange, the work they do, and how they might be able to help you, just get in touch. Simply email with the subject heading ‘StepChange’ and we’ll be in touch to arrange a call with you.

Barrier 2 – Mental health and other vulnerabilities

More than half of the people StepChange work with have an additional vulnerability as well as their financial vulnerability.

Financial difficulty can take a toll on your financial and physical wellbeing. Money worries and mental health are connected, and it can make it even more difficult for you to feel able to reach out for support.

StepChange have a number of ways you can get advice, and you don’t have to speak with someone over the phone if you don’t want to. Getting online advice means you can take things at your own pace, and they also have specially trained advisors on hand if you need them.

If you’d like to access university wellbeing support, head over to the Wellbeing and Mental Health Portal page for more information, or contact our Student Services Helpdesk at You can also call on 01244 511550.

Barrier 3 – Impact on credit score and access to credit

Many people in financial difficulty worry about the impact debt will have on their wider finances. Two of the most common fears are:

1) Companies may stop lending you the money you need just to get by, and
2) Getting debt advice will affect your credit score.

This is a common misconception, but getting debt advice involves no credit checks and has no impact on your credit score. And if StepChange recommend a debt solution that could affect your credit score, they’ll always explain that clearly.

Barrier 4 – Not having the time to get help

Finding the time to get support can be difficult, and dealing with money worries can be particularly overwhelming and intimidating.

StepChange have a range of tools which make it easy for you to get help at a pace that suits you.

Their 60 second debt test can help point you towards the support that is right for you.

And their debt advice is available online 24/7. You can pause and restart whenever you like. Getting help is easier than you might think, so if you’re struggling with debt, give it a go.

Barrier 5 – Shame and stigma

Feelings of shame are very common among people with problem debt. Many try to solve the problem on their own and don’t feel able to ask for help.

50% of people wait over a year before seeking help, but when they do, 92% of those people wish they’d got help sooner.

One of the big messages we want to spread this week is that debt can happen to anyone. It’s nothing to be ashamed of and asking for help earlier can make all the difference.

Debt happens. Let’s deal with it.

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