A few short years ago, Lisa was living with her parents as a single mum with a young daughter in tow, Lisa’s simple freedoms were stifled by anxiety with a financial past that included bankruptcy, it's no wonder she felt trapped.

When Lisa was introduced to fair finance through BaptistCare HopeStreet, she had gained access to public housing and was planning to move in. First, she needed to purchase a fridge and some furnishings.

“I heard about BaptistCare’s StepUp (low interest) and NILS (no interest) loans and met with Terri, our local Step Up Loans Coordinator. She went above and beyond to help me,” said Lisa.

“I’ve been able to move my daughter and I into our own little unit and furnish the place. Settle myself down, be comfortable and not stress so much about what I can’t afford.”

“Access to the loan has helped me make some big leaps. With my anxiety under control, I’ve been able to get myself back into work part-time and I’ve just completed a medical and waiting to find out about another job next week,” said Lisa.  

Many disadvantaged Australians lack access to fair and affordable credit. It’s often the big expenses like replacing a refrigerator or washing machine that causes a lot of people to engage with dangerous loans in the first place.

“At the end of the day, it costs $800 to get a new washing machine. It costs $700 to get new tyres. It’s those big expenses that jump up that really cause me a lot of stress,” said Lisa.

“Access to fair finance has helped my anxiety. I had crippling anxiety. The money I am paying back is empowering, but it’s not a lot. I am still able to afford to live.”

“Paying around $20 a fortnight, the repayments are very affordable. I am able to up the repayments and pay it off early. It’s really helpful knowing it’s available,” said Lisa.

StepUp and NILS loans can be paid back weekly, fortnightly or monthly with minimal interest. The loan must be paid off before taking out another. Where a genuine need arises, the loans are distributed in the form of a cheque made out directly to a supplier. “I love that it can’t be abused or wasted. It’s a genuine opportunity for people who are on the pension and struggling. It’s a leg up, not just a hand out.”

“It helps a lot of people and I respect it. That’s why I aim to pay it back early, so you can see I am genuine. And it gives me a good record,” said Lisa.

The past, while difficult, has taught Lisa valuable lessons around finance and independence. “The bankruptcy was the result of me being too trusting with an ex-partner. He put me in debt and I couldn’t get myself out so I had to go bankrupt,” said Lisa. “I have learnt my lessons with all those little shark loans.”

Looking ahead, Lisa’s outlook for herself and her daughter has changed. “As a single mum, I’m never going to be able to afford a big loan as I can’t be working full-time to pay off a house or anything.”

“But eventually I will need a new car. Through the help of fair finance, I can purchase something reliable. It’s the little things like this which give me peace of mind going into the future.”

With renewed self-worth and independence, Lisa also intends to utilise the loan in another life-changing capacity. ‘Once I’ve paid off the current loan, I will wait awhile and save what I can, then I’d like to put a down-payment on some orthodontic work,” said Lisa. “I’ve always had problems with my teeth, and this gives me the opportunity to solve them.”

Through accessing safe and affordable finance, Lisa has been freed of the stress and anxiety of financial uncertainty.