Christmas has just been and gone. The most wonderful time of the year … a period where we get swept up by consumerism and the frivolity of the season, and usually spend a bit more than anticipated on having fun and treating our families.
In most cases this is fine, and something we grin and bear. However, there will be a lot of people looking at their credit card statements this month and facing a rush of fear, wondering how they’ll be able to pay their balance in addition to their regular bills.
One of The Furniture Makers’ Company’s key functions is our welfare support. We provide financial help to furnishing industry employees, past and present, and their dependants, when they fall on hard times.
We do this through the awarding of grants for essential household items or bills, funeral expenses, property repairs, mobility and medical equipment, respite or convalescent breaks, general financial hardship or pre-tenancy costs and removal costs.
There are many families in the UK living with increasing levels of consumer debt because their household income is low and they have high housing costs and childcare bills. Families on low incomes have less access to low-cost borrowing, and are more likely to be forced to resort to payday loan companies. People on low incomes are also likely to be paying more for their utility bills because of higher pay-as-you-go tariffs.
Very quickly, people can find themselves in a cycle of debt, where continual borrowing leads to increased debt, interest costs become a significant monthly expense, and debt increases even faster.
Now, that’s not to say we can clear your post-Christmas debt – yet Christmas does exacerbate the problem, and we are here to help when you get into a sticky situation, hopefully at an early enough stage so we can prevent it from becoming a major issue.
In all likelihood, if you are reading this magazine there is a good chance that you’re either an owner, director or senior manager of the company you work at, and will never need our help. In all honesty, we hope no-one ever needs to contact us, but we’re here for them when they do, and we review every case individually. There isn’t a request, big or small, that we won’t review.
However, in order for everyone in the industry to know we’re here, we need your help to promote us. You can do this a number of ways – by hanging our charity poster, publicising the charity on your intranet or staff newsletter, or include a message in payslips, for example. If you need some ideas on communicating our services, please contact our marketing team.
Jonny Westbrooke is the chief executive at The Furniture Makers’ Company, a City of London livery company and the furnishings industry’s dedicated charity. Information and a charity poster can be downloaded here.