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Over half a million Dutch households face problematic debts. Many people with debts struggle to find their way to debt counseling, but they often do have contact with social workers and volunteers. However, these professionals have limited knowledge of the laws and regulations surrounding debts. That's why students and researchers from the law faculty want to establish a debt law clinic. Here, they provide free legal advice to the professionals assisting people with debts. This is a real step towards addressing debt issues. Do you support the debt law clinic?

Making debt counseling more accessible

One of the biggest issues in debt counseling is that people with debts often do not make use of the available help. This is because the subject is surrounded by shame, and the threshold to come to the municipality's office is high. As a result, people with debts often find informal debt counseling more quickly than official agencies. Informal counselers are professionals and volunteers in the social domain, such as employees of the Food Bank or housing support workers.

Better support for debt counselors

The debt law clinic originated from a request for help from these debt counselors. They are seen as the point of contact for legal questions that they often cannot answer. To provide them access to the legal knowledge they need, the debt law clinic is being established. "We assist the counselors in being able to provide people with debts the right information," says Tim Verheij, co-initiator of the debt law clinic. This lowers the barrier to accessing proper financial assistance. In the debt law clinic, law students will provide legal advice to the counselors. Law students Fiore van der Linden and Jessenia Cruzospina have already started working for the debt law clinic. They conduct research and work on a new version of a handbook for debt counselors.

A future-proof debt law clinic

Thanks to the grant from the Paul F. van der Heijden Fund, which is part of the Amsterdam University Fund, the project was able to get underway. However, to ensure the sustainability of the debt law clinic, additional funding is needed. Verheij also wishes to investigate more social issues: "The plan is to hold weekly consultations, conduct research, and ensure that the debt law clinic becomes future-proof." That's why this autumn, the Amsterdam University Fund is also seeking support from donors and UvA alumni. This way, the debt law clinic can truly bring together research, education, and entrepreneurship.

By supporting the debt law clinic, you contribute to the improvement of debt counseling and give our dedicated students the opportunity to address a societal issue. Let's together lower the barrier for financial assistance and make a difference in the lives of those who truly need it.