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Sandra doesn't fit with the stereotype of somebody with debt problems. Before things started to go wrong she had a good job with a financial services company and had just been headhunted to take on a district manager job at another. She and her husband, who also had a well-paid job, had incurred some credit card debts and ran a sizeable overdraft, but nothing they couldn't afford to repay.
Then, with dreadful timing, Sandra had a serious accident on the weekend before her new job started. Because she wasn't yet officially employed by her new company, and had terminated the contract with her old employer on the Friday, she found herself out of work and partially disabled. Four months later, her husband was made redundant and wasn't able to secure a new position straight away.
Although the couple managed to keep paying their card companies each month, Sandra knew it wasn't sustainable. "Within 18 months, we just couldn't keep up with the loan payments - we were sinking," she says.
Sandra contacted a debt charity for advice and they put her in touch with Phillip Allen. From the moment they started discussing their problems with Phillip and his team members, they felt a great weight had lifted from their shoulders. Together they decided that an IVA was the right option.
Putting the IVA in place wasn't plain sailing. Because of a technical hitch with one of the couple's creditors, the first proposal that was put forward wasn't successful, but Phillip and his team persisted and their IVA was approved a week later. Overnight the letters and phone calls from creditors stopped and the couple felt that they were heading in the right direction at last.
The following five years were challenging. Sandra's disability meant she wasn't able to work full time and her husband's new job wasn't as highly paid as his previous one. But the monthly IVA payment was achievable and Phillip and his team were there to help when difficulties arose. "Every time I fretted, I would ring up and ask for help - they were always there. They had lots of empathy and were terrific listeners," Sandra says of the team who helped her through the IVA process.
The final hurdle was the toughest of all - a lump sum payment of £8,000. The only way they could manage to get the money together was in three instalments rather than a one-off payment, but Phillip agreed to this arrangement and the IVA was completed a year ago. Last Christmas, they enjoyed the first foreign holiday they'd had in six years - paid for by cheque, of course.