Effective work/interventions with young people and/or vulnerable adults around ‘debt bondage

I have consulted with The St Giles Trust, in relation to the query around effective work/interventions with young people and/or vulnerable adults around ‘debt bondage’.St Giles staff provided the below two responses;

  • Complete relocation is an option, though may need to include wider family.
  • Paying off a debt is rarely effective as if there is a perception that there is money available then the debt doesn’t go away.
  • I’m aware of some successes with mediation led by a credible worker and repayment- there is no manual for this and it’s very context specific.
  • Letting a young person work off a debt is extremely risky and rarely advisable due to all the associated risks.
  • For smaller debts (under £400) the person owed can sometimes be persuaded to walk away by making the young person too hot- lots of police and agency attention, tagging etc.
  • Debts are rarely written off with the exception of very small amounts and in the case that was raised with another young person having an ‘elder’ covering it on the young person’s behalf carried equal concerns.
  • The problem is that the only effective way is to deal as a partnership. In the right hands of a case worker mediation can help. Also law enforcement plays it’s part as danger to the young person often ensues.
  • I think there have been instances where information on the elders have been solicited in confidence and with the right partnership arrests have been made, but this has to be done where there are effective measures to protect and possibly relocate them.
  • I think a key aspect of this to bear in mind is the motivation of the young person to leave. Getting rid of a debt by whatever means will only lead to more if a person still wants to remain involved.

A big thank you to St Giles Trust for assisting with this query……..

Hope this Blog is of interest to you!

Kay Wallace

NWG Police and Justice Lead.

kay@nwgnetwork.org

01332 585371 / 07399449039