My name is Jean (name changed to protect identity); I am a single mum of 4 children ranging in ages from 3 years old to 10 years old.

I live in a rental house which takes a lot of my pension.  I do have my name down for a Department of Housing house but don’t know how long I have to wait yet, probably a few years.

Last week I went to use my washing machine; I put on the washing and walked the kids to school, when I came home there was water everywhere.  My washing machine had broken down.  What was I going to do?  I didn’t have the money for a new one.  Later that day I put a CD in the player for my youngest so I could clean the bathroom, but it didn’t seem to work, then I saw that the TV had not turned on; it too had broken down.  I just stood there and cried.

I rang the Salvos as I heard they have washing machines they give to people who need them.  Unfortunately they didn’t have any, I burst into tears again and asked what am I suppose to do.  They suggested a NILS loan; I’d never heard of them.

[I soon found out that NILS stands for No Interest Loans Scheme, and it’s for people like me on welfare.)

I rang a place called Picabeen and they asked if I was on a Centrelink benefit.  I said ‘Yes”.  I was then told I would first get a letter in the mail that would tell me what sort of paperwork I had to bring with me to an interview.  The letter was a bit overwhelming – so much stuff I had to take with me: bank statements, a letter from CentreLink, rental agreements, pension card, drivers license, a bill – but it would mean I can get the money for both my washing machine and TV and wouldn’t have to pay any interest.  I also get 18 months to pay it back.  “Wow!’  I don’t have much money left over each pension day so a NILS loan would be perfect.  I pay back each fortnight a small amount of money that is manageable for me and it is taken out of my CentreLink pay so I don’t really miss it.  I get a brand new washing machine and TV.  Exciting.

I made an appointment date, turned up for my appointment at Picabeen and met the NILS interviewer who was very kind and welcoming.  I had to fill in more paperwork and explain all about my spending habits.  This was hard, telling a stranger how I spent my money but at the end hopefully I will be approved for a NILS loan.  I understand that I don’t actually get the money.  It is paid to the store where I will buy my washing machine and TV.  That’s ok, a bit embarrassing but I can manage a little bit of embarrassment to get my new appliances.  If I get this loan, when it is paid off I can get another one if I need something else.  It is so good to know there are places like Picabeen that give money to people who can’t afford to buy what they need.

I now have to wait a couple of weeks to hear if I get the loan.  I feel really nervous as I so desperately need this money to buy the things I need.

I got the loan. I’m so happy and thankful for my NILs loan.  And thank you, Picabeen.