AT 70, Margaret did not expect to be made redundant.
“I was doing pretty well working in the oil and gas industry,’’ she said.
“But with the oil price diving the company was forced to make many people redundant and I was one of them.
“It was quite a shock.”
Living in the outer northern suburbs of Perth, Margaret struggled to find work and felt her age was affecting her chances.
“I found out when I was applying for jobs that there were many, many applicants, sometimes hundreds.
I was overlooked, even though I had a lot of experience.”
With her redundancy money and superannuation dwindling, Margaret was struggling to pay her bills.
Her creditors began to call up to four times a day.
Margaret did everything she could to try and make ends meet, including selling a diamond ring she had inherited.
It was not enough, so the banks suggested she meet with a financial counsellor.
Despite thinking she had tried everything, Margaret made an appointment with a financial counsellor from Uniting WA and was pleasantly surprised.
“As soon as I met my financial counsellor, I knew I was in safe hands.
“His professionalism and friendliness made me feel at ease.”
The financial counsellor was able to advocate on Margaret’s behalf and support her through managing her debts.
“He gave me guidelines of what to do and what not to do – ideas I had discarded in the past because I didn’t think it would work.
“Now I’m living within my means on my pension.
“Debt for me now is an absolute no-no.’’
Margaret’s story is not unique.
Last year, almost 1300 people had financial counselling appointments with Uniting.
Uniting WA chief executive officer Amanda Hunt said people find themselves facing financial insecurity through no fault of their own.
“And now with so many people affected by the coronavirus pandemic, the demand for all of our financial wellbeing services will increase,” she said.
“We encourage anyone experiencing financial stress to reach out and seek support.’’
Margaret did, and she’s not looking back.
“I don’t know where I’d be today without the support I got from Uniting,’’ she said.
“The feeling of relief and freedom I have now is just amazing.’’
Uniting WA is a member of the Financial Counselling Network.
You can also find some financial counsellors from Uniting in the Currambine Central Shopping Centre on Tuesday, September 22.