Auction raises funds for vital debt advice service
by SEJ on 5 Apr 2023
A charity dinner and auction raised £3,430 toward the running costs of the free debt service in Dunstable provided by The Salvation Army.
The event, organised by Dunstable's Debt Advice Co-ordinator Fiona Simpson and hosted by Salvation Army officer, Major Stephen Brevitt, was held on 23 March at Central Bedfordshire College during Debt Awareness Week. A hundred people attended, including local MP Andrew Selous, Mayor Liz Jones and Deputy Mayor Lisa Bird.
The Salvation Army debt advice service is in great demand from local people forced into serious debt by the cost-of-living crisis. The service is currently assisting 37 clients with debts ranging from a few thousand pounds to tens of thousands, dealing with a combined debt of £666,932.
Clients come from a range of social and economic backgrounds. Many have found themselves in financial difficulty due to unexpected life-changing events such as unemployment, ill health, accidents, divorce and domestic violence.
Over 30 experiences, gifts and merchandise were donated by individuals, groups and businesses and auctioned at the event, including a five-course Gourmet dinner for two at a London restaurant, a two-night getaway for two and a twilight spa evening at Centre Parcs, Woburn. Hospitality and catering students from Central Bedfordshire College served guests a two-course meal.
Lorraine Cook, Financial Inclusion Development Manager at the Salvation Army, said:
“The money raised will go towards running the much-needed free debt advice service that we have been operating in Dunstable for 16 years. As the cost of living puts vulnerable people under huge financial pressure, this service is needed more than ever.
“It was wonderful to see everyone out enjoying time with each other while raising money to help local people in need. We are so thankful to everyone who helped make the evening a success, especially those who donated goods and bid in the auction.
Sam, aged 41 and a client of the Debt Advice Service, was a speaker at the event where she said: “I initially came to The Salvation Army to seek a pair of crutches. I had a pelvic disorder while I was pregnant eight years ago and I could hardly walk. They showed me such kindness and bought me the crutches as I didn’t have the money to buy them myself.
“As I came down the stairs in The Salvation Army church, I saw a leaflet for debt advice, and that’s when I made the phone call and booked an appointment. All my meetings were so pleasurable, not judgemental. I felt listened to, which was really important to me at that time, as I felt overwhelmed - as my problems were really getting me down.
“They (The Salvation Army) got me through a hard time in my life and helped me become debt free. I’ll never forget what they did for me. Because I really believe that I wouldn’t be where I am today without their help. I am now in my third year in university studying business”.
The Salvation Army offers people ongoing support until their debts are cleared, which includes help with budgeting and working out reasonable repayments.
If you have expertise in offering debt advice and would like to volunteer with The Salvation Army, please contact: email@example.com.