A MOTHER has spoken about how she went from luxury living to struggling to feed her children and keep them warm after finding herself in £30,000 of debt following a marriage break-up.

Caroline Wilkinson, from Bolton, has spoken of her debt problems ahead of BBC Two’s The Debt Saviours this Friday in a bid to inspire others in the red to find the courage to get help ­— after her life was transformed by a local charity which got her back into the black.

The 48-year-old turned to Christians Against Poverty, which have two centres in the borough, and with its help became debt free and is now looking to the future. Caroline recalled how easy it was to go from a high standard of living to trying to eat and keep warm.

She explained: “In 2014 my husband and I split up. I was left with a share of debts amounting to over £30,000. I was employed by my husband, so when he left I lost my job. I lived in a big house in a very nice area, two cars on the drive, my children were in private school, and I had no idea that everything was so bad.

“I couldn’t afford the household bills. My son had to leave his friends and change schools. I couldn’t heat our house. We lived in one room and shared the king size bed in my room to keep warm. I had no food. I skipped eating so I could feed my children, and was living on £72.50 a week in sick benefit. Those months were probably the worst of my life and I had gone from the one helping others and supporting charities to being the one needing help myself.”

Some friends told Caroline about CAP and she rang the helpline number to its Bradford head office and despite the long waiting list, a slot became available quickly.

“CAP helped me with a budget which was continually changing,” added Caroline, “I was on benefits for 15 months – had three operations and Bell's Palsy due to stress. The staff at Bradford were great. Always reassuring and helpful.

“And locally I had access to the coffee morning at St Peter’s Church in Halliwell. Also, my CAP Centre ran “‘a year of blessings’ where church members gave specific items every month for CAP families. I remember the advent calendars, Easter Eggs, extra cleaning equipment, disposable BBQ, amongst others. My area also runs “Christmas Dinner on Jesus” which I qualified for as a CAP client.

“A whole Christmas dinner is delivered to you in a box on Christmas Eve – including drinks, cooking tray, napkins as well as all the food items. I remember often crying at all of this. How had I gone from the one supporting others to being the one being supported? I never thought I’d be in such a poor financial position in my life.”

Caroline became debt free around February, 2017, just over two years after she has started working with CAP.

She added: “I paid it all off in instalments. By that time I also had some savings, which was a good thing, because I broke my leg two months later and was off work for five months. It’s amazing to be debt free. I manage my budget now using a CAP money tool.”

Anyone struggling with debt should call CAP’s freephone number 0800 328 0006 to arrange a visit from Sam or visit capuk.org The programme will show at 9pm.