MONEY from the Wiltshire Community Foundation has helped a debt advice service support families facing mounting bills because of the economic fallout of the pandemic.

The Trowbridge Debt Advice Service is one of 105 groups to have so far received vital funds from the Wiltshire and Swindon Coronavirus Response Fund, which to date has raised more than £620,000. Already more than £360,000 has been distributed to groups to help them meet the needs of their communities.

The service, based in Stallard Street, has been given a £3,350 grant to help it switch from face to face to phone consultations, cover running costs and make its office Covid-proof.

The hardship caused by workers being furloughed or having their hours cut has prompted an increase in calls to the three-year-old charity. Centre manager Clive Jackson, who organises the team of five volunteer advisers and three admin staff, said: “I’ve had five new clients just like week, which is unusual. Normally they come to us in dribs and drabs.

He said people living on very tight budgets are unable to cope when their income drops by even the smallest amount. “We have quite a few who have been furloughed. Earlier on there were some who hadn’t had the 80 per cent of their wages because their firm were still waiting for money from the government, although that has eased,” he said

“A lot of people have been worried about interest racking up because although the banks have said ‘you don’t need to pay your mortgage for three months’ they have still been accruing interest, the same with credit card debts. For those who can pay the minimum amount each month, it is a worry because the interest is building up.

“There are one or two people who have come to us because they’ve had a letter from their company saying they are on furlough and getting 80 per cent of their wages but the firm can’t afford to pay the rest. And they are being told they may not have a job when the furlough is over.”

Mr Jackson said he and the centre’s five volunteer advisors expect to be busy plan to extend opening from two days a week to five when they re-open, possibly in July.

He said: “The forecast is that a heck of a lot of people are going to be made redundant or have their hours cut. There are a lot of people who are starting to get worried, we’ve had enquiries already from people who say they are not in debt now but they know they will be soon and want to know how much debt they have to be in before they can come and see us.”

The community foundation grant has covered the expense of switching the operation to phone sessions, running costs and reconfiguring the office when it re-opens. “The grant will make a very big difference to us. It costs us around £7,000 a year to keep running and we are totally reliant on grants and donations,” said Mr Jackson.

Contact the service on, or on 07884 952696.

Wiltshire Sight has been given more than £4,000 to set up a telephone befriending network for 1,000 people across the county, more than 80 per cent of whom are over 65, suffering from sight loss.

Fundraiser Katie Endecott said: “It is common for people living with sight loss to feel isolated, however this feeling is currently amplified.

“ If they go out at the moment, clients cannot see others to observe social distancing, and their social networks have been cancelled.

“These clients are struggling with isolation and loneliness, and we have found a number of clients who have also lost their loved ones due to Coronavirus.”

Community foundation interim chief executive Fiona Oliver said: “These groups are an inspirational example of organisations who have speedily adapted their service so that they can continue to support the people who rely on them and we are delighted to be able to help.

“There are scores of charities who have responded in the same way but will continue to need financial help, and that is why our fund is so important.”

To donate to the Wiltshire and Swindon Coronavirus Response Appeal or to find out how to apply for a grant, go to