My week: Julia Hyliger, Christians Against Poverty

The manager of the client support unit at Christians Against Poverty negotiates hard.

Julia Hyliger
Julia Hyliger

Monday: The client support unit is a relatively new team at Christians Against Poverty, but we're already handling the debt repayment of more than 1,600 clients. It's fast-paced work. Dealing with people who are at financial breaking point and who often have associated emotional problems is challenging but also massively rewarding. We see people's lives change - from people who are without hope to people who have seen their marriages rebuilt, homes saved from repossession and dignity restored. I love talking to my team individually to make sure everyone's had a good weekend and that they're raring to go.

Tuesday: At the head office I meet our creditor liaison unit, which negotiates with creditors to accept payment offers. We agree the budget we have set for each client and oversee the cases of clients whose accounts have stabilised and who are paying regularly into their accounts with us. It's fantastic that virtually all of our clients are debt-free in five years. With one payment each month from clients, we can pay all their bills and debts on their behalf.

Wednesday: One of our clients is about to go into hospital and might not be able to make all their repayments. After negotiating hard with the authorities about their council tax, I arrange a new payment plan for the client. Initially they didn't want to budge, but we got there in the end. We've saved someone from the threat of eviction, which is fantastic.

Thursday: We put a few hours aside to discuss our clients because we need to be aware of how each of them is doing. Sticking to a financial plan after years of poor money management can be tough, but we're delighted that 78 per cent of our clients pay every bill on time and in full each month. We've decided to send out some flowers, chocolates and perfume to clients who need some encouragement. Then we update financial statements, contact clients who are having difficulty paying bills and take calls from those who want to withdraw money from their savings.

Friday: Our post normally consists of other people's bills, so it's nice when that changes. I've had a letter through today that makes my job worthwhile. A couple whose business failed while they were trying to get back on their feet financially has thanked us for our support and for the chocolates we sent out to encourage them the other week. It was a small gesture, but reminds me that we all need support from time to time.

- Christians Against Poverty is a national debt counselling charity working from a network of 68 centres based in churches.

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