This year marks the 10th anniversary of the annual Debt Awareness Week. Each year, the expert debt charity StepChange shines a spotlight on the causes of problem debt and associated issues.

For the 2024 awareness week, the charity is looking at the main barriers to getting debt advice and how people can overcome them. Paralegal Sara Palinska evaluates what is available with examples from the Pro Bono team’s work.


What is debt advice?

Debt advice involves an impartial look at your finances and the options available to you. This might include learning about what debts you should pay first, making a monthly budget and getting recommendations on how to deal with your debts.

This could also include assistance with speaking to creditors on your behalf. Some organisations may also be able to support you with formal debt arrangements, such as a debt relief order, individual voluntary arrangement (IVA) or bankruptcy.


Stewarts support with finances

Our dedicated Pro Bono team assist individuals who have sustained a catastrophic injury or serious illness with a range of issues that may have resulted from their injury or illness. Many of our clients have financial concerns arising as a result of their injuries or illness. We will not judge you and will do our best to help you reduce the financial pressures you are facing because of your serious injury or illness.

So far, the Stewarts Pro Bono team has:

  • assisted more than 1,900 patients with debt and other financial issues
  • written more than 1,900 letters to creditors
  • arranged 747 repayment plans and repayment holidays
  • successfully helped secure the writing off of more than £1,140,000 of debt and secured refunds and apology payments of nearly £50,000.


Case studies

NH and LH

NH was referred to Stewarts’ Pro Bono Legal Service following the passing of his wife, LH. NH became the sole parent of the couple’s two young children. He was left with significant financial worries, including LH’s debts (which formed part of her estate), a reduction in income and an outstanding mortgage on the family home.

While we awaited the resolution of a life insurance claim the Legal Service was also assisting NH with, we helped NH write to LH’s creditors and request a write off of the remaining balances. The Legal Service has contacted six creditors and achieved a total write-off in the region of £5,000. We continue to assist NH with the remaining creditors in the hope of securing a similar outcome.

Patient MM

MM sustained a spinal cord injury as a result of an accident at work in 2022. We met MM in September 2022, and they explained they were struggling to make payments on three debts as they were only receiving statutory sick pay.

MM had a potential personal injury claim, but proving liability was difficult and interim payments of damages were not forthcoming from the defendant.

We obtained medical evidence and provided this to MM’s creditors. We also obtained income and expenditure information for MM. We were able to get all three creditors to agree to write off the debts owed by MM, totalling £10,777.16, in under four months.


Other support

  • StepChange has 30 years of experience providing comprehensive advice and assistance surrounding debt management. You can get debt help on StepChange’s website or by telephone on 0800 138 1111.
  • The NHS provides a free adviceline, NHS Stressline, specifically for people coping with financial worries. If you feel overwhelmed, low or anxious about your money problems, please call 0300 123 200.
  • You can also reach out to the charity MIND, which offers an open talking space to those struggling with money-related mental health issues. To contact MIND, please call on 0300 123 3393. MIND also has a welfare benefits helpline, specifically dedicated to supporting those with mental health issues who wish to access the welfare system or explore cost of living crisis support: 0300 222 5782.
  • The National Debt Helpline provides free debt advice to people across the UK. It can be contacted on 0808 808 4000.
  • Citizens Advice has a range of debt and money information on its website and can be contacted by telephone on 0800 144 8848. You can also contact your local Citizens Advice branch, which can be found on the website.
  • You can also get debt advice from PayPlan by telephone on 0800 280 2816 or online.
  • Confidential advice about your debt solution options is also available from the Debt Advice Foundation, which can be contacted on 0800 043 4050.



You can find further information regarding our injury expertise, experience and team on our Personal Injury and page.


Subscribe – In order to receive our news straight to your inbox, subscribe here. Our newsletters are sent out once a month.

Key Contacts

See all people