My previous long term partner was a successful businessman and during the financial crash was left unemployed. During the years that followed I supported him financially and unfortunately built up a lot of debt on credit cards in my name. The relationship ended and I found myself in a position where I couldn't afford the payments and had no option but to find help. 

I went online to seek advice as there were no other options. I simply googled debt problems and it led me to the government’s website on what to do. I found a list of recommended options and began the task of reading about similar problems other people had. Vincent Bond was a website that stood out and described the staff in detail, who looked friendly and approachable. 

I confided in close friends who helped and invited me round for dinner to support me in the process. One friend came to my house and refused to leave unless I rang a debt help company. This was the start of the process.

I will never forget the wait as the phone dialled the number, my heart racing and a deep sense of shame resulting in me having to explain to a stranger all my problems. Someone answered and immediately told me not to worry...he would help.  We chatted and it was surprisingly easy to convey my story. Mt advisor showed sympathy whilst reassuring me throughout the conversation. 

I then completed paperwork which indicated what my income and expenditure was, this was adapted over the next couple of weeks to show a true reflection of what disposable income I had left and what I could afford to pay back. My advisor kept in touch with me and helped when I needed it. He submitted all the paperwork for the IVA and again reassured me throughout. 

As part of the IVA process the credit cards companies meet to agree the payment you have indicated you can pay back monthly, you need attend by telephone, this was to ensure if they had any questions I was available. In the end I wasn't needed to say anything. The credit card companies agreed I could pay back £200 per month which was a huge relief and a weight lifted from my life. The relief I felt was no longer the feeling of shame but incredibly proud of the fact I had taken control of my life back. I had struggled financial for months before I rang for help, I only wish I had done this sooner.

The following five years meant it would pay £200 per month so I had to budget, friends helped and invited me for tea (a lot) were supportive and brought wine when I needed it. I only told a couple of friends but ones I could trust and certainly wouldn't judge me. I managed to repay the IVA and manage my monthly outgoings. Each year I had to submit any changes to my income and send all pay cheques so they were happy to continue each year. This is a very simple process and unless there are significant changes it’s a continuous process that doesn't really impact on your life.

I have now completed the IVA and no longer have the debt. I feel very proud to have completed the process on my own and able to forgive and forget past errors. I have learned not to believe the crisis was my fault anymore and managed to take control back of my life in a positive way and not focus on the past as to why I ended up in that position. 

I wish you all the best for the future and just one tip...make the call.