A charity specialising in supporting people with hidden debt is preparing to help even more following a spate of North Sea job cuts.
Recent weeks have seen redundancy announcements from Repsol Sinopec Resources UK, BP, Total and ConocoPhillips.
Wendy Fleming, who runs support group Ditch Debt with Dignity (DDWD), said the charity has seen an increase in activity in the last five weeks, and expects that to continue.
Set up in 2014, the charity provides a free and confidential service for people who are struggling with hidden debt problems.
Ms Fleming, who is a chartered financial planner, said the group can offer a “safe space” for anyone in need.
She said: “My concern is that there are people sitting at a laptop scared to open letters, scared to answer the phone, looking at an overdraft and unpaid bills and think ‘I used to earn a hundred grand a year’ or ‘I used to run an oil company, how have I managed to get in this position?’
“We take no judgement of that, anyone could find themselves in that position.”
Many of the charity’s clients are made up of people who were made redundant, had health issues or bereavement.
In the last six months DDWD has seen a range of people asking for help from within the energy sector, as well as people indirectly affected by the downturn.
The main concern from those in contact is over loss of a home but no clients have had that happen yet, although that can’t be guaranteed.
Ms Fleming added that the charity can provide a phased plan to “repay debt in a manageable fashion”.
She said: “We can open the letters, we can speak to your creditors with your authority.
“We will give you at least a month’s breathing space, sometimes six weeks, where you don’t need to make any payments whatsoever.
“After that we can negotiate with them on your authority to get lower payments.”
The charity is now appealing for more volunteers, or funding in order to pay for a part-time staff member.
Volunteers do not need financial experience, only “empathy and discretion”, and will go through training before seeing clients.
Anyone in need of the charity’s services can get in touch via e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org