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"My employer arranged for me to go to the food bank."

The impact of money worries can be considerable, both privately and at work. Employers do not always know how to discuss money problems and how to help employees. Partner fund Brainport Eindhoven wants to change this with the Financially Fit in Brainport program.

 

Social development company Ergon also joined in. A great example of a company that supports employees with financial problems. For example through the Financial Help Desk. Employee Rob Faber (61) knocked on the door when his debts got in over his head. He tells more about the support he received.

How did you get into financial trouble?

"In 2020, I received a reminder from the housing association. From then on it went downhill. My then-wife filled out her own tax papers and something had gone wrong there, leaving us with a tax debt. When we got divorced, those financial problems continued to haunt us."  

You sought help at work?

"True, I immediately presented the problem to my supervisor. In addition, I had heard about Ergon's Financial Help Desk before, a colleague and expert by experience had told me about it. With that conversation in mind, I asked for help." 

How did you manage to deal with money worries?

"The first few weeks were tough! I had to live on about 5 euros a week. Fortunately, through the Financial Help Desk, I was able to get to the Food Bank quickly. That was really a boost for me, because it felt quite strange to go there. But without that support it wouldn't have worked out. Fortunately, I was able to get by in the first few weeks by eating out of my freezer. After that, I really noticed how tight the budget was. I learned to buy smart at cheap supermarkets. I also get help from those around me; I get to eat at colleagues' houses or my brother gives me clothes." 

What else does your employer do?

"Ergon deducts the fixed expenses from my salary. As a result, I know exactly what I have to spend, which provides an overview. I have heard that managers at Ergon have received training through the Partner Fund. I was able to talk to them in a very open way, I think that is not the case everywhere. I have experienced that in good times and bad Ergon is a fine employer."

How do you see the future?

"I am now used to making ends meet with little. I have to pay off my debts for two more years, then my situation will be different again. I'm sticking to that. What will I do when my debts are paid off? Just live on, things are going pretty well now." 

What would you recommend to others?

"You don't have to be ashamed of money problems, that won't get you anywhere. If I can contribute through my story to help people, I'm happy to do so."

What is the Financial Help Desk Ergon?

Ergon founded The Financial Help Desk in 2019 after research showed that a lot of sick leave was related to a non-medical cause. Think, for example, of stress during a divorce or money worries. The Help Desk is part of the vitality program Ergon Fit. The Financial Help Desk helps with practical solutions and contacts with creditors. In this way Ergon tries to make money worries in the workplace discussable and support their employees. This year they published a Money Paper together with Nibud.

Lenie Beliƫn, project manager Financial Counter Ergon, explains why it is so valuable to participate in the program Financially Fit in Brainport: "It is important that this topic is discussed on the shop floor. Before, I never heard anyone at work talk about their financial situation; that could be different. And this program can help with that. Partnerfonds also helps to set up a communication plan. Very nice for us but also very important. A good communication plan ensures that our employees know they can turn to the Financial Help Desk."