Amid a cost-of-living crisis, a woman has spoken out about how hard life was before she was helped out of crippling debt by a charity.

Natasha Barrett, from Bolton, was in more than £25,000 of debt after her ex-partner died, leaving her with debt, bills with her needing to pay for care of their children.

The 31-year-old had been in debt since 2014 with her ex-partner, and after missing a few initial payments with utility bills, Natasha quickly found herself in arrears, after added costs were piling up.

She said: “I was struggling for years, bailiffs were sending letters and my mental health dropped.

“I was left wondering how I would pay the bills and the benefits I did receive were not enough as prices of food and bills were going up.

The Bolton News: Natasha Barrett and Sam Wolstencroft

“We had to prioritise what the kids needed, and more times than not my partner would go to work without dinner and working nine to 10 hour shifts just to make enough money, so we had enough food for the kids.”

By 2023, things were so bad for Natasha, now living with her new partner, she could not have the heating on.

She said: “I wasn’t getting any mental health support either and you just hit a brick wall.

“In November and December last year, I had to choose between heating and the electricity to cook.

“I was using blankets to keep warm on the sofa, just to make sure I have enough electricity for the month.”

The Bolton News: Natasha Barrett and Sam Wolstencroft

Borough charity Urban Outreach put Natasha in touch with Christians Against Poverty (CAP) so she could get support with her debt.

CAP helped Natasha go through budget plans, run money coaching courses with Urban Outreach, and took her through a debt relief order, which saw all her debt removed, allowing Natasha to regain her life.

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Natasha was also given food vouchers and clothing items when she could not afford anything.

CAP also runs classes on life skills and job clubs to help people stay out of debt.

Natasha said: “Now I can get back into my career studying forensics at university in October.

“We can actually go out and pay our bills, go out for a walk and more things we could not do before.

“I feel more at ease now and if it wasn’t for CAP I don’t know where we would be.

“I can’t thank CAP enough now and I would recommend them to anyone If they are struggling.”