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  1. ITV Report

One in five people in Bristol struggling to stay on top of their finances

Photo: ITV West Country

A woman from South Gloucestershire has revealed her "isolation and despair" after being forced to live on the equivalent of just over one pound a day as a result of serious debt.

It comes as a new has report found one in five people in Bristol are struggling to stay on top of their finances, with the majority of the region's support charities now facing closure.

Sarah was forced to live on the equivalent of just over £1 a day because of debt. Credit: ITV West Country

Sarah says she had to live on £15 a fortnight after her bills were paid.

She kept going on Cup-a-Soups: for breakfast, lunch and dinner.

Sarah was getting Jobseeker's Allowance at the time but says her personal circumstances made life tough.

My partner died five years ago. So all the bills that he was getting, they were all passed on to me. So that was really distressing because I had to try and find the money from wherever to try and pay for that.

– Sarah

Sarah took out a personal loan and went deep into her overdraft. She struggled to get the companies sending the bills to understand her situation. But then things got even worse.

A year later my mum passed away. So I had the added trauma of going down to sort her flat out, sort her funeral out.

– Sarah

All the while, Sarah's debt was mounting up and up, leaving her feeling "isolated".

In the end Sarah got help from the Southern Brooks charity in Patchway.

Staff say more and more people are coming to them with debt and the mental health problems that go with it.

We're seeing a kind of 'circle of stress' around people getting into debt. Which that they can't meet the basic needs of their families, and they're struggling to hold down jobs because of this stress, which then has a knock-on effect.

– Southern Brookes
Staff say more people are coming to them with mental health problems. Credit: ITV West Country

A new report has found that 17.2% of people in Bristol are in too much debt and that people with money worries are more likely to report depression and suicidal feelings.

17.2%
of people in Bristol are in too much debt (Quartet Community Foundation)

But Southern Brooks has had its council funding cut, just as more people are coming to it for help.

All over the region, similar charities are facing similar struggles.

In its report the Quartet Community Foundation has found that fewer than half the West's community support charities are confident they can survive the next 5 years.

Quartet, which already gives a million pounds a year of donated money to community groups like Southern Brooks says the public should fill the funding gap.

There is some money in the state sector, but we know it's been reducing. We know for example there isn't enough money in the mental health sector for all the acute beds for example that might be needed. So our message is that philanthropy, just ordinary people doing their bit, makes a massive difference.

– Quartet