Local Debt service recognised with national award for dealing with £25 million of debt during pandemic

Advice NI and its members are celebrating being named Debt Team of the Year in the UK.

The prestigious title was presented by the Institute of Money Advisers (IMA) who praised the local team for its unwavering support for people dealing with debt in Northern Ireland while keeping focus on training and development.

In 2020-2021 Advice NI’s Debt project, funded by Department for Communities, offered support and solutions in 4,000 debt cases totalling over £25 million in business and personal debt.

The team were also shortlisted for the Special Achievement Award at the same event with judges praising the team for the client impact, the list of training delivered, quality of advice given and adaptability when the Covid-19 pandemic changed the service delivery.

The ceremony took place virtually at the IMA Conference 2021 on 1 July and Advice NI was the only Northern Ireland-based organisation on the shortlist.  The debt service consists of 31 qualified personal and two qualified business debt advisers working throughout Northern Ireland and provide free advice on budgeting and various debt solutions including Debt Management Plans, Debt Relief Orders (DROs), Bankruptcy and IVAs. All the advice provided by the advisers is free, impartial and confidential.

Bob Stronge, Advice NI CEO said:

“Debt advisers have gone above and beyond during the pandemic to ensure the most vulnerable in Northern Ireland still have access to reliable, free and confidential advice.

Everywhere I go and everyone I have talked to has given praise and recognition to the positive role the sector has and is playing in relation to the pandemic.  This shows both strength in the sector and how adaptable the independent advice network can be when faced with tough times. I would like to offer huge congratulations to the debt advisers working across the debt service for this achievement.”

Congratulating Advice NI on their success, Communities Minister Deirdre Hargey said:

I’d like to say really well done, this is great news for Advice NI and their members in being named the Debt Team of the Year by the Institute of Money Advisers. The Covid pandemic has resulted in particularly challenging times and confronted the advice sector with so much that was unprecedented.  My Department relies on the support that organisations such as Advice NI and their members provide in supporting people and exposing the reality of poverty in our communities.”

Sinead Campbell, Advice NI’s Head of Money, Debt and Quality said:

“We are delighted that the debt service has been given national recognition for their hard work over the last year and more. The debt team have worked steadily throughout, supporting other advice services, ensuring they undertook the latest training and even raising their quality standards. We are proud of this achievement and thank all members and advisers for their dedication during this most difficult year.

We urge anyone struggling financially to call the helpline, which is free and confidential, and speak to directly to an adviser.”

Anyone living in Northern Ireland can contact Advice NI for free an impartial money & debt advice by calling freephone 0800 915 4604, emailing advice@adviceni.net or you can visit www.adviceni.net to find your local advice centre.




Photo caption:

Back L – R Jim McDowell, Peter Coburn, Joanne Ross, Donnchadh Murphy, NIACRO, Gail Edmondson, Rose Edge

Front L-R Jill Boyd, Omagh Independent Advice Services, Jodie Waring, Bob Strong, Sinéad Campbell