Sherbet Foundation is a debt charity, founded by Shergroup Limited in London, UK to address real social issues. As enforcement agents ourselves we know the problems that take place during or after an enforcement action takes place. An enforcement action affects the life of debtors and their families. Often people affected by enforcement action lose everything through no fault of their own, or some people just have nothing, to begin with. Sherbet offers a little comfort to those families and people affected by enforcement action through its innovative assessment and grant-making system and its genuine desire to help those less fortunate.
Our Chief Shergroupie, Claire Sandbrook wanted Sherbet to offer more help to a person affected by enforcement rather than just walking away. An Authorised High Court Enforcement Officer herself, Claire was well-aware of the aftermath of an enforcement action. Having listened carefully to the organizations that support people in debt, Claire believed that she and her team could make a difference to families who were either in debt or facing eviction from their homes.
Claire approached her colleagues from law and enforcement to ask if they would be willing to be appointed trustees of the Sherbet Foundation. She was overwhelmed by the positive response with everybody agreeing to join in. Today, Claire Sandbrook is the trustee and the Chairperson of the foundation.
Who can Sherbet help?
Anyone that our enforcement agents perceive to be in desperate need can receive Sherbet’s help, anyone who is in a vulnerable state – families, parents, or children. The range of people is vast.
Sherbet can help the people in need or affected by an enforcement action in a variety of ways. Sherbet can help them to get back on track by financing the cost for fixing a domestic appliance if they don’t have the means to do it, providing clothes for the family members if they can’t afford to buy, contributing to a fun weekend break for the children where parents are under severe stress, paying for counselling for parents under stress, and more. Sherbet is an imaginative means to enable the most vulnerable to be helped out and the Foundation looks to make a vital contribution in an area where help is needed most.
How does Sherbet make a grant?
A grant will be made to someone who has had some form of enforcement action taken against them. It may be that they have not paid their council tax. And a bailiff has knocked at the door to ask for payment. Or it may be that they have not paid a County Court judgment and a High Court Enforcement Officer has visited them to take control of goods and seek payment.
The fact that an enforcement officer has visited someone to collect the cash is the starting point for applying to the Sherbet Foundation for a grant.
How is Sherbet different from other charities?
Sherbet helps people who have had a knock at the door from a bailiff or sheriff and is therefore affected by enforcement action. Whereas other charities mostly help the underprivileged or people in financial difficulty in general.
Of course, not every person who is visited by a bailiff is in financial difficulty, so we have a verification system that identifies that a person really needs the Sherbet grant. This can be done either by taking feedback from the visiting enforcement agent making a report and helping the person to fill in a grant form, or it can be done by a trusted partner who will verify that the person needs the help.
What sort of grant will be made?
A grant will fulfil the necessities for the affected family of the debtor, things that can help them lead a better life. Some examples of the grants that Sherbet has made in the past include –
a hoover for a mother who has an asthmatic child and who was found to have only a dustpan and brush to sweep the floor. A washing machine for a father who had no way of washing his children’s school clothes and the children were being bullied at school as a result. A sofa for a family who was found to have nothing to sit on. A bed for a person found to be sleeping on a mattress on the floor. A tumble dryer for a mother who needed to change her children’s bedding each night.
In all these cases, the trustees were satisfied that the item claimed were essential and can help improve the person’s quality of life in some meaningful way.
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How does someone apply to Sherbet?
There is an online application form that can be completed on the Shergroup website www.shergroup.com or you can also ask Sherbet for a hard copy of the form. Ideally, the form will be completed by an enforcement agent or by a representative of a trusted partner, such as a welfare officer of an organization, housing association or utility company. Once submitted, a decision can be made within days.
A few words by Claire Sandbrook, Trustee and Chairperson, Sherbet Foundation
“Our responsibilities are first and foremost, as enforcement professionals are to the judgment creditor. But debt has become a national issue and is set to become worse. This has only been heightened by the impact of the pandemic. There will be more enforcement action needed. And the truth is, that bad practices of a small minority of bailiffs have a negative effect on the whole of the credit collection industry. Bailiffs are never going to be popular, but we hope that in future through Sherbet, we can help change the perceptions that the public has of our industry. And through our TV projects, such as Call the Bailiffs, you can see first-hand how bailiffs deal with certain members of society who evade paying their debts, while other people are suffering from huge financial vulnerability. Sherbet is a way of addressing a real need in the enforcement sector to use a position of power for social good.”