Rising prices lead to a shortage of volunteers
Debt counselling expects a threefold increase in clients. But they lack volunteers with knowledge in finance and law to help.
Inflation and rising electricity and gas prices. It can be hard to get enough money. They are aware of this at Den Sociale Retshjælp, where voluntary advisers help citizens get an overview of their finances.
The number of volunteers has almost halved, while the waiting list is getting longer and longer.
“We expect a threefold increase in clients. So we have a shortage of volunteers”, says Johanne Marie Dirdal Daasbjerg, Director and General Manager of Den Sociale Retshjælps Fond. She continues:
“We are already seeing an increase in citizens contacting us with financial problems, and at the same time we have only seen the tip of the iceberg when it comes to citizens affected by inflation and rising prices. And there will also be citizens coming in who need help with debt restructuring.”
Looking for volunteers with a finance background
It is in particular experienced volunteers that they want to get a hold of.
“We would really like to have volunteers who have a professional background that they can bring to their counselling. But we also provide training to anyone who wants to volunteer with us”, says Johanne Marie Dirdal Daasbjerg.
She encourages students who are brave enough to get some extra experience to apply.
Maintain your knowledge
There is also a lack of volunteers at the Danish Consumer Council. Preferably with a finance background or experience from other relevant sectors.
“We need professionally competent volunteers with knowledge in economics, law or the social field. We currently have volunteers who are still in the labour market as well as pensioners, but we are also happy with economics or law students who are earning a degree”, says Lone Buchardt, Project Manager at the Danish Consumer Council. She adds:
“There is a good opportunity to use the skills you have, maintain your knowledge and also acquire new skills. This could be negotiation skills in relation to creditors or advisory skills.”
Like Den Sociale Retshjælp, they have experienced that risking prices have increased the demand for financial advice.
Want to become a volunteer?
Finansforbundet works with Finans Danmark’s member companies to make voluntary bank advisers available for KFUM’s Sociale Arbejde i Danmark’s nationwide project “På Fode Igen” (“On Your Feet Again”) and for Settlementet’s debt counselling.
The scheme means that volunteers who work in Danske Bank, Nordea, Sparekassen Danmark, Fynske Bank, Spar Nord or Lån & Spar can deduct half the time they spend on volunteer debt counselling from their working hours.
So when you give an hour, your employer gives you another hour.
“Normally people come to us with a debt problem that has accumulated over a long period of time, but we are now also experiencing people who have gotten a high electricity or heating bill and therefore seek out our financial and debt counselling to get help forming an overview”, says Lone Buchardt.
Political agreements have an impact
In addition to rising prices, they also predict that a new political debt agreement will have an impact on demand.
“We have a shortage of volunteers in most counselling centres. From 2023 onwards, the debt agreement will have an impact. This means that we expect an even greater demand for advice. Because part of the debt agreement is a reduced right of recovery, increased wage garnishing and increased cancellation of public debt. We expect to get many requests because many people call us when they are contacted by Gældsstyrelsen (the Danish Debt Agency), especially when it comes to wage garnishment”, says Lone Buchardt.
In the debt counselling, they help citizens get an overview of their finances and adjust some of the expenses to make ends meet.
“When they come to us, we advise them on the options available in their specific situation. We start by reviewing their finances, and then we give them specific advice based on that”, says Lone Buchardt.