Helping Perennial deliver front line support

Monday, July 30th, 2018

For over 175 years, our friends at Perennial have provided life-changing support to everyone working in the wonderful world of horticulture and its related industries when times get tough. That includes gardeners, landscapers, garden designers, tree surgeons, foresters, groundsmen, and everyone who helps keep Britain beautiful. The charity also helps their families and those retired from the industry.

The National Garden Scheme has been proudly supporting Perennial since 1986 and having donated more than £1.7 million during that time, we are the charity’s largest single funder – helping Perennial deliver front line and free-of-charge financial and emotional support and advice to those facing crisis.

Sophie Martin has been a debt adviser at Perennial since 2012 and her work to help those in need is one of the many examples of the fantastic support that your visit to a National Garden Scheme garden funds.

Who comes to Perennial for help?

Debt is usually a symptom of a bigger problem – someone may have suffered an accident, illness or redundancy and therefore become unable to work or find themselves facing mounting financial pressure due to low pay and the seasonal nature of working in the horticulture industry. Many people, particularly those who are self-employed, simply have no cushion to fall back on if something unexpected were to happen. We help a wide range of people including those who are in work and retired, as well as their dependent family members.

How did you discover Perennial?

Before I started my role at Perennial, I worked as a debt adviser in a Citizens Advice Bureau, and often signposted my clients to Perennial. The charity interested me because I liked the way Perennial’s casework and debt team worked together to provide a complete service, and that they help people for as long as they need it.

What does a typical day look like for you?

No two days are the same for me! Unlike the casework team who are out on the road, visiting people in their homes, most of my work is office-based. We discuss each client’s circumstances in depth to ensure we provide advice that is tailored to their situation. This includes discussing all the options available to discharge their debts, and budgeting advice help them avoid reliance on credit in the future.

Once a client has chosen a strategy to deal with their debts, we will help to put this plan into action. This may involve us negotiating with creditors to set up payment arrangements, asking creditors to write off debts, or making applications for insolvency on behalf of our client. Perennial can also represent clients in court and help them get the best possible outcome.

What is special about Perennial’s service is that every client has direct contact with their adviser. This means they can proactively stay in touch with me, ask me questions and keep up to date whenever they want to.

What part of your role is the most rewarding?

Without a doubt, the most rewarding part of my job is knowing that the work I undertake has a life-changing impact for my clients. Debt can take a huge toll on people’s mental health and wellbeing but we help support people with all aspects of their problems, both emotionally and financially.

Often clients tell me that they can finally sleep at night, knowing their debt issues are being handled. People tend to only seek help when they are already at crisis point and the stress of their situation can be overwhelming. It is hugely rewarding when a client becomes debt free and we can say goodbye knowing that we have given them the tools to move on with their lives. Perennial works with people for as long as it takes to get people truly back on their feet and help them toward a better future.

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