Is this Life or Debt?

“Running into debt isn’t so bad. It’s running into creditors that hurts”
With the lack of job prospects in the UK affecting so many, hundreds of Britons are being forced to turn to alternative means to get enough money to get by, week in week out.

The Sheffield Debt Support Unit has found it’s resources pushed to the limits over the past twelve months as the number of debt related issues get more common and more complex. The main issue with the cases Steve Wilcox and his team are dealing with seem to be with money lenders who charge inflated interest rates to those who are desperately in need of pay day loans and emergency loans.

With banks getting more restrictive and credit ratings plummeting, the uptake in online loans and demands on doorstep lenders is getting to the point where the bubble has to burst.

Debt Advice

Getting advice and good advice at that can either bring you out of debt quickly and effectively or push you further in. With debt advisors popping up across the UK and online, getting impartial and full advice seems to be the key to moving forward. Yet many advisors are only in the game to prey on those who are vulnerable and tie them into five and six year debt management plans that leave many in a far worse situation than when they started.

Ralph Keene, is a debt advisor with charity Christians Against Poverty and feels that debt is an issue that can easily affect any or all of us in our lifetimes.


“Internet is the quick and easy option”

With mounting debts and the current recession showing few signs of recovery, Jacqueline Halliwell of Sheffield Credit Union feels Yorkshire and the UK needs to curb over spending and cut down on a lifestyle that British citizens take for granted due to credit cards and loans. She says she has found that the internet is proving to be the get out card for people in Sheffield and beyond when they owe money to loan sharks. She said the Credit Union has found that they are now dealing with clients who not only owe money to doorstep lenders but money to e-loan websites to keep the doorstep lenders at bay.


With stricter licensing laws for money lenders and caps on interest rates may come the suppression of lending at the outrageous rates of over 100% apr that have affected so many in the past few years. Yet it seems as though while as soon as the Office of Fair Trading shuts some lenders down others will appear or the previous ones will reappear under different names. As long as demand exists for quick loans and we continue to buy beyond our means then loan sharks and shrewd debt advisors will continue to practice.

Shopkeeper fights on after being stabbed and hammered.

A Sheffield shop keeper has been violently attacked by hammer-wielding thugs merely six months after being stabbed three times in an armed raid.

Michael Wiles, 58, has been running his shop on Langsett Road for over 35 years, suffering over six robberies since 2002. His father was also a victim in 2007 when he died after an argument with youth offenders over selling single cigarettes.

Michael is determined to carry on though and will not give in.

“You’ve just got to keep battling, get through the rough and jog on. I’ve been here for nearly 40 years and its only in the last 10 I’ve had this problem”, he stated.

“There’s a target on smaller business, because bigger places have got security. They won’t attack there, but I’m just on my own. There’s one or two who just want to be Mr Big Gangster”, Michael said.

The latest attack occurred after a football game when two hooded thugs attempted to rob the shop of its day’s takings. After Michael tried to defend himself and the shop, one attacked him with a hammer hitting in him the side of the head and shoulder five times, while the masked accomplice kept guard of the door. Police are investigating the incident, using CCTV footage.

“They know they get away with it a lot of the time, if they want to cause trouble, you can’t stop them really ” Michael said.

It is nearly six months to the day that Michael was stabbled in the stomach, ribs and shoulder after a group of armed raiders attempted to steal cash from the till. Michael said: “You’re just never expecting it. I check my doors every five minutes, when I see any doubtful characters I just clear off. If I don’t get it someone else will.”

In 2010 Michael was also attacked by a robber who tried to gouge his eyes out with a tent peg, and in 2002 he was smashed in the head with a wrench. Michael also receives frequent abuse from drunks and underage teenagers who want to buy cigarettes.

Britain’s Disabled Workers Speak Up

A protest  in Sheffield is being held to demonstrate the issue of disabled workers being let go from factory jobs in the UK. The Remploy workers are outraged at the closures and loss of jobs as they are seen as some of the most vulnerable in society. The issue affects workers in London as well as Sheffield and the protests are being staged outside of the Department for Workers and pensions in both cities.

Unions are particularly angry with closures to 36 of 54 Remploy sites this Summer including those in the surrounding cities of Chesterfield and Worksop.

With unemployment hovering around 2.6 million it looks as those with very few options and who are most at risk in Britain will also be joining the dole queues.

Sheffield Students Speak Out on Education Cuts


Sheffield Socialists and Students Speak out

Sheffield Students from both Hallam and University joined together and spoke out against the cuts to higher education. The group totaled some thirty students mainly from the socialist parties of both colleges and included  megaphones and drums in what was a loud and passionate protest.

The group made their way down through the cities main streets and past the town hall just after midday escorted by mounted and walking police.

Today’s events across the UK are part of the “come clean” campaign which has followed on from previous student protests. This time  young people of Britain want answers as to why tuition fees were trebled to 9,000 pounds and also why the private sector have been given new degree awarding powers.

It is expected local MP Nick Clegg we be lobbied by both of the Universities unions as the push for change moves forward in 2012.

G4S Protests from Sheffield Asylum Supporters


South Yorkshire Migration & Asylum Action Group supported by ASSIST, City of Sanctuary and others  staged a demonstration outside Sheffield Town Hall to draw attention to the proposal by the UK Border Agency to award a major contract to the security firm, G4S, to provide accommodation and other services to people seeking sanctuary in the UK and Sheffield.

The demonstration  started at 12.30pm outside Sheffield Town Hall. There were numerous  speeches until 1.30pm when the protestors marched to the UKBA offices at Vulcan House and handed over a petition with 100’s of signatures reflecting the views of a growing number of people in South Yorkshire.

Prior to handing over the signatures  a passionate Wattra Wajontany from City of Sanctuary termed asylum seekers accommodation under G4S as similar to “concentration camps”. He described the contract to the firm associated with Palestinian human rights abuse as being similar to expecting a cat to help a mouse.

Jeni Vine of the Northern Refugee Centre said more needs to be done and this is an issue that will not go away. She also felt that the pressure that they were adding with the protest would help change the Border Control’s minds and offer the contract to a security group with a less questionable history.