17 December 2020
It was my childhood dream to be a police officer and when I joined the force I was delighted. I had some debts from before I signed up, which I had been slowly paying off. However, my salary was lower than my previous job and I soon got to the point where I was struggling to pay my debts and make ends meet.
“Like most dads I wanted to give my family the things they enjoy; things like day trips out and dinners at restaurants. But with only £60 in the bank after my debt repayments were taken care of, I was struggling to provide even the basics like food or petrol for the car.
“The stress was eating away at me. I lost my appetite; the weight fell off me and the world seemed dark; all I could see was my debts. It was affecting my work; I would be talking to people then just stop and go blank because I was so stressed. I kept blaming myself and it put a huge amount of stress on my relationships. Because of the stigma around debt I didn’t feel like I could tell my parents as it was so shameful to me. My wife knew the situation, but she was the only person; I was carrying this around inside of me like a weight. I know now that I didn’t need to be ashamed – people do get into debt. But back then, I wasn’t thinking clearly.
“One option was to leave the force, but I never even considered it. I had worked too hard to achieve my dream, there’s no way I was going to leave a job I loved. I just had to find a way to make it all work.
“The day came when I knew I needed help. I contacted my local Federation and the Secretary asked me in for a meeting. We had a good discussion and they were so supportive. I was referred to PayPlan, a company that will manage your debts for you. They went through my finances with a fine tooth comb and then worked with the lenders to arrange affordable monthly repayments.
“Now, a year on I’m not only paying my debts off but I’m saving money each month too. I used to dread pay day because I’d just watch the money drain from my account and now, I’m saving money, it’s a world from where I was.
“To anyone who is in a similar situation, I would say: ‘you are not alone. Please reach out to people that can help’. Ignoring your situation won’t change it, it won’t go away on its own and it will eat you up. For your own mental health, speak to your local Federation. The email I originally wrote to mine sat in my drafts for weeks before I pressed ‘send’, but I can honestly say reaching out was the best thing I’ve ever done.
“When you are in this situation you feel like you are all alone, when you're not. It takes courage to speak out especially about debt, and even if it’s not about your debt, even if it’s about your personal life or mental health, the Federation will help and support you. If you don't speak out they won’t know. So, take that one step forward and you will see the difference. A problem shared is a problem halved.
“Everything has been turned around. I have my life back; my wife has her husband back and my kids have their dad back”.
- Anonymous officer