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Last Updated: Monday, 11 September 2006, 20:56 GMT 21:56 UK
Debt diary: Race against time
Sayara Beg
Sayara Beg has now given birth but has to find work fast
Thousands of people in the UK are struggling with ever-increasing levels of personal debt.

BBC News website reader Sayara Beg, 36, a freelance IT consultant from East London, has been battling to come to terms with her creditors since the summer.

A matter of days after the birth of her second child Sayara has to find work.

Diary entry nineteen

Baby Anna-Marie has arrived, albeit six days late, and we are all ecstatic. There were no complications and all went well. I feel fortunate and joyous.

I spent much of the pre-natal period ignoring my creditor's letters. I know this flies in the face of what debt counsellors say, but for my sake and my new baby I thought it best to have some time out.

It was a bit uncomfortable during the job interview because I had some stitches and had to pretend that all was normal

No doubt my creditors would not consider this a priority and so it was proved when suddenly Halifax started calling me just before my due date asking for more than a token payment on my Visa account.

I am brash and nonchalant, responding by saying that I had more important things to concern me right now.

This of course agitates the anonymous caller from the call centre and I am told that my credit rating should be my priority concern, above all else.

But I tell them that I will continue to make my token payments, or a little bit more if its possible, until I am able to return to work. And that I cannot say when that will be, although I hope it will be in a few weeks.

And so after the baby's arrival, Halifax Visa finally agree to stop calling for 10 days, but they require an updated financial plan as soon as possible.

Diary entry twenty

Kensington Mortgages are following their processes to the letter and are adding charges to my account for repossession procedures, which are quite large sums.

And my other mortgage lenders are threatening to do the same.

So I decide to look for work immediately.

And five days after the birth, I have got a job interview.

It was a bit uncomfortable during the job interview because I had some stitches and had to pretend that all was normal.

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I do not believe a judge in a court hearing my repossession case is likely to consider my request for some quality time with my newborn child to be a good reason to stop the whole process.

I do not think the law allows for such emotional pleadings, and I can just hear the judge saying to me "in law a contract is a contract and if you have signed it then you are bound by it".

As I prepare for my interview, I realise that I can't fit into any of my work suits.

And I can't afford new clothes.

It is only a few days after the birth and I am told my body will return to its previous shape after a month, but I need to look as normal as possible now in order to get work.

So I opt for a drastic crash diet and start missing meals and eating very little.

CONCERNED ABOUT DEBT?
National Debtline: A free, confidential and independent service funded by the Department of Trade and Industry and the credit industry. Tel: 0808 808 4000
Business Debtline: Provides a free telephone debt counselling service for self-employed and small businesses, partly funded by banks. Tel: 0800 197 6026
Consumer Credit Counselling Service: Funded entirely by the credit industry, the service offers advice to people in debt. Tel: 0800 138 1111
Citizens Advice: Offers free, independent and confidential advice from more than 700 locations throughout the UK.

This affects my breastfeeding negatively and I swap to bottle feeding.

I wouldn't advise this to any new mother, but I have no choice as I need an income.

Now that my baby has arrived and my family is providing me with the support I need to look after her, I concentrate on getting a new contract to enable me to start meeting my repayments and pay off my arrears.

I decide not to respond to any of my creditors.

The past three months have demonstrated that updating my creditors of my situation has not really helped me and has just cost me more money than I would like to spend.

I am now in a race against time to recover financially and repair the damage done by the past three months of being out of work. Only time will tell whether me and my family will come through this.

The opinions expressed are those of the author and are not held by the BBC unless specifically stated. The material is for general information only and does not constitute investment, tax, legal or other form of advice. You should not rely on this information to make (or refrain from making) any decisions. Always obtain independent, professional advice for your own particular situation.

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