Debt doesn’t discriminate. It affects people from all walks of life. The taboo about it means we are more likely to tell our pets rather than our partners about our money worries.
Broke Girl in the City spoke to Sinitta, who is an ambassador for Debt Free London, about her involvement and why she thinks it is so important right now.
Interview with Sinitta, Debt Free London
Sinitta thank you for talking to me. I wanted to ask why Debt Free London? What inspired you to become an ambassador for them and align with this campaign?
First of all, I can identify with people in debt and stressed, in London which is the most expensive city right? Especially after lockdown, where people were not able to work. Especially in our Industry where there were a lot of dancers, entertainers and actors, where so many people were affected.
Once I started to read what Debt Free London and the kind of people they were helping, and the issues that are going on. You realise that it’s much deeper than you think. It’s affecting people more than we think. It’s not just about money or not being able to pay bills… it’s affecting mental health, and it can become a real issue. Stress has some people feeling suicidal.
I have had a previous bailiff experience, with a debt that wasn’t even mine and it was the scariest thing ever. I paid for the bill by intercom through the door, because they were so aggressive, but it could have been a random for all I knew. The stress of how they spoke to me, and how aggressive they were. What if you didn’t have the money, and also it was horrible!? Imagine if you have small kids at home, or if they threaten to take away your car if you need that for your job. You can see how quickly things can escalate. It was awful. Even for me, if I had known about Debt Free London I could make a phone call, and I could have gotten some advice before paying this bill. I wanted to make this stop, but I would have been told I didn’t have to let these people in.
Add to that, people from the LGBTQI community are stigmatised and are treated badly in their jobs and with money for their sexuality. They are given fewer opportunities, chances and leniency. The majority of my friends are from this community, and I can empathise with and relate. I think it’s a scary position to be in.
Money, and not having money, is like a dirty situation. When in fact it’s most people’s reality, yet there is a lot of shame. It’s easy to come unstuck especially after a pandemic. This is great. It’s for everyone, but it’s great launching this during Pride Month to launch this, with specially trained allies who are able to relate and empathise and help, and know how to talk to you. You are not going to be treated any differently, and you are going to be embraced and get help with specific problems. We all need that safe space.
Sinitta and I continued to chat about debt and shame and why I started this blog before moving on to discussing short-term loans…
Short-term loans are awful when they get their hooks into you. Someone I knew received a credit card, who then saw credit as free money and felt important. That was the last thing they needed to do. The Bitcoin scams are bad too. I have lots of people still ringing me after I clicked, having an interest in learning more about them. The deal was one of those too-good-to-be-true things, but one of the men on the phone was aggressively trying to get me to sign up. Something made me check it, but the person on the phone then became aggressive, which is why I felt something wasn’t quite right. To this day, they are still harassing me for calls. There are so many scammers, but you can ring Debt Free London. Who would know?
There are so many different areas, whether you are in trouble or want to know what rights to benefits you are entitled to or are eligible for. Many people don’t know, but Debt Free London can help. Whether it’s for young people or many others who just need advice about money. There are so many online schemes that are not reliable, but this is free advice. Advisors are trained to help you and steer you out of a difficult situation.
I think it’s great you are here fronting such an important campaign. A lot of people are in dire straits, and lots of people are struggling.
I know everyone is struggling. The price of petrol goes through the roof, council tax…everything costs more.
I tried to swap my gas company for one with a better opportunity, but they wouldn’t let me move. They said I was locked into a 3-year contract.
People need help, and people need advice. People may be panicking, as it’s the scariest feeling when you see that bill. You recognise the envelope and can tell when it comes through it’s not a birthday card, right?
I can remember when I was younger. I would put bills behind a cushion on the sofa because I didn’t want people to see them when they came over. I would hide the bills and then forget about them. Feeling scared, getting night sweats, panicking.
When you get yourself into a hole, that’s when the shame creeps in. How do you then say to someone can you lend me £30k? You don’t want to be that person. This is amazing that you can get in early and get help dealing with these calls. If you have anxiety, you can get help dealing with these sort of problems. I get a bit of anxiety about paying some of these bills. If I had grown up with Debt Free London when I was younger. Then I would have grown up with an attitude that this is sortable. It doesn’t have to be a great huge thing that I am terrified of. We can train a generation of people who actually know how to manage these sorts of problems.
What is your top tip for dealing with money?
My top tip is to spend less than you make. It’s simplistic, but that’s the maths behind it.
Broke Girl in the City is based in London. What’s your favourite part about living in the city?
I grew up in North West London, and there are so many parts of the city I love. We then discussed living in the Hampstead area of London. It’s great because you can get into the West End in just a minute. When I started to make money and moved out. I moved to the Kings Road side because it was all hip and happening. I love Walton Street, which is the street that leads from the back street of Fulham Road to Harrods. It’s amazing.
My new favourite place is Marleybone. It’s amazing, the boutiques and high street shops. I am an honorary Marleybonette.
That concludes the end of the interview with Sinitta! Thank you so, so much!
You can find out more details about Debt Free London and its campaign here.
SINITTA started her career as an actress and appeared in several West End musicals, including Cats, Little Shop of Horrors, Hair and Mutiny! Starring as the leading lady, Maimiti, alongside David Essex. Signed by the young Simon Cowell to his record label while still a teenager, Sinitta had 15 international hit pop records. She became an official triple threat, dominating the music charts and teen culture during the late ’80s through the ’90s globally. Since the mid-’00s, Sinitta has remained in the spotlight, becoming a mentor to young emerging talent and as Simon Cowell’s right-hand-woman on The X Factor. Sinitta is the Godmother of Pride London and mentor to LGBTQI+ artists for Pride’s Got Talent. Sinitta performs annually on several of the Pride platforms, including The BAME Stage and The Women’s Stage.
Instagram/Twitter @thesinittaofficial | FB – Sinitta | TIKTOK – @thesinittaofficial
“Anxiety and stress are the biggest mental health destroyers in our current times. Money problems and debt are some of the biggest activators of stress and anxiety. It is awful not having enough money to live comfortably, and nothing worse than having the added pressure of debt collectors or angry demands for the money you just do not have and are unable to repay loans or bills.
“People have chosen to end their lives to end the fear and strain of the constant worry and threats surrounding unpaid debts. I have heard awful stories of ongoing suffering and stress and think it is brilliant that Debt Free London is reaching out to help so many people struggling in our great city. People often mistake the LGBTQI+ community for being extremely wealthy with disposable incomes and party lifestyles, and Pink Pound Power, which is silly, like thinking every entertainer has a Hollywood movie star lifestyle.
“Most people in all walks of life have to work hard for their money, and sometimes, no matter how hard you work, ends do not always meet. Having someone to speak to when you are feeling overwhelmed and getting some calm advice can actually change your perspective and give you some ideas or, at the very least, buy you some time so that your emotions and fears do not escalate.” SINITTA JUNE 2022
LGBTQI+ BESPOKE COMMUNITY HOTLINE: 0800 808 5664
For more information about how to contact Debt Free London: https://debtfree.london/pride
Facebook: DebtFreeLondon | Twitter: @DebtFreeLDN | Instagram: @debtfreeldn