Below we have gathered some useful information as we head into the festive break. Our office will be closed from the 23rd of December till the 3rd of January, if you need assistance during this time you can seek our self-help pages from our website.
With the ongoing cost of living crisis, times can feel tougher than ever, we are here to support you whatever your issue, through our email advice channel, telephone service or face to face we have the right support offer for you. We can also support you all year round, via our public site.
Financial worries can be difficult at any time of year however the festive period adds an additional factor, if you are worried about finances and are considering borrowing money to finance Christmas you may wish to consider an ethical lender, such as a credit union rather than a high interest rate loan option , you can find information different ways to borrow money here
You should also be cautions of loans from friends, as if they are expecting you to pay back larger amounts of money than you borrowed they may be a loan shark you can find out more about loan sharks here.
Before you borrow money, it's important to make sure you will be able to keep up the repayments, otherwise, you could be taken to court and might even lose your home or other valuable possessions. it is important to understand how to borrow sensibly and how to avoid some of the pitfalls of borrowing which can lead to problems with debt. if you are struggling with debt you can find out more here.
If you are struggling with your mental wellbeing at any time of year you may wish to discuss this with someone, Samaritans are available 24 hours a day 365 days per year on 116 123.
Christmas can put more of a strain on everyone, additionally you may be worried about current events or life in general if you are feeling worried anxious or more down than usual you can speak to your GP or make a self-referral to the wellbeing team for Hertfordshire through the single point of access.
Gambling and Addiction Support
If you’re worried about gambling The festive holidays can be a difficult time for people that are trying to control their gambling and/or are affected by gambling harms. If you're worried about your gambling, you can read more here. You might also want to:
· limit how much you gamble
· talk to someone about your gambling problem
· get help to deal with debt
· check if you can get a refund if you’ve borrowed money
· complain if you were allowed to gamble after you self-excluded
· get support if you’re finding things difficult
You can also get help if you’re worried about someone else’s gambling. Whether you are looking for support for yourself, a friend, or a family member, GamCare can help
If you have any other substance or addiction issue you can access addiction support services here.
If you’re struggling to afford food
If you’re struggling to afford food, you might be able to get help from a food bank. Food banks are community organisations that can help if you can’t afford the food you need. You’ll usually need to get a referral to a food bank before you can use it. This includes all food banks run by the Trussell Trust. You can get a referral for yourself and any family members you live with - including your partner. You might be able to use some food banks without a referral - for example, if it’s run by a church. Contact your local food bank to see if you need a referral.
You can find a list of non-referral based food support in Stevenage here.
Cost of living support
If you need help with the cost of living If you don’t have enough money to live on, you might be able to get help to afford essentials like bills and food. This includes the Household Support Fund and cost of living payments. For access to the household support fund please fill in an email advice form and a Citizens Advice adviser will reach out to you to assess you for this.
To maximise your income you should perform a benefits check, you might be able to do this even if you have a job. For more information, please visit Citizens Advice website.
You may be able to get temporary credit if you can’t afford to top up your meter. Your supplier might add this to your meter automatically when you run out of credit, or you might have to contact them and ask. Find out who your energy supplier is if you're not sure. During the festive season, remember to check the opening times for your top-up point as most shops and Post Offices will be closed during bank holidays.
If you are thinking to work out your budget The new year is a good time to start budgeting. Use our budgeting tool to help you understand what you’re earning and spending, and where you might be able to cut costs
If you or someone you know needs emergency housing If you’re worried about yourself or someone you know becoming homeless contact Shelter. Shelter can also give you information about night shelters and emergency housing issues.
If you are facing homelessness in Stevenage you can present as homeless through the portal here.
If you bought something from a business to be delivered, it’s the seller’s responsibility to make sure the item is delivered to you. If the seller used a courier, they should chase the courier to find out what’s happened to your order - it’s not your responsibility. Check the delivery address you gave the seller. Then contact them and ask where your order is. If the seller claims they've delivered it or don't know where it is, you can ask for a re-delivery. You might be able to get a refund in some circumstances. For more information, please see here.