MARION Forsyth fell into crippling debt and was only able to get her head above water with help from a crisis charity, despite working all her life.

The grandmother of three hopes a new website launched on Wednesday by the Scottish Government can help other people like her, who are struggling or unable to make ends meet because of the cost-of-living crisis, to find financial stability through a network of support.

A divorce which ended up in court and illness forcing her to leave her cleaning job landed Marion, 63, from Edinburgh, in arrears because she was unable to keep up payments on her old home which she had to leave in the aftermath of her break-up.

As Social Justice Secretary Shona Robison acknowledged at the event, there are many ways for people in desperate situations to access support and for Marion, it was through a link worker at her GP.

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They referred her to an organization called Christians Against Poverty, which has a base in Central Hall, Edinburgh and which is home to specialist debt advisers who help people escape the vicious cycle of poverty and debt.

Through tears Marion – who described herself as having never been a “spender” – told Robison at the church on Wednesday about her struggles to keep up with the money she owed and having to rely on foodbanks despite a lifetime of working and never falling prey to scams or predatory loan companies.

Robison gave Marion a tour of the new site, which collates a number of trustworthy sources of information to help people struggling with their finances, mental health and myriad other problems find ways of getting support.

Marion told The National afterwards: “I’m not very good with technology but I know a lot of people are and I would advertise [the site] to them.”

She said the hardest part for many who are struggling is taking the first step of admitting to themselves they are not coping.

“You can go through your whole life, Monday to Friday, but when things go wrong – whether it be financial or marriage breakdowns and things – you need that wee bit of support and you need to know where to go and you need to know it’s there,” she added.

“It’s easier to rely on friends and family but there are professionals out there who can help you.”

Robison said the site was just one part of the Scottish Government’s £3 billion package of support for those struggling this financial year – much of which is being spent by her department on “mitigating” Westminster benefit cuts.

Tory Chancellor Kwasi Kwarteng announced on Friday new tough restrictions for thousands of Universal Credit claimants – of whom Marion is one.

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Around 120,000 of the working poor claiming the benefit in the “light touch” regime will be taken into stricter measures to make them prove they are seeking more hours or better-paid work – or face sanctions.

Robison told The National: “We’ve tried to mitigate where we can and support people through things like the Scottish Child Payment.

“Universal Credit was bad enough with things like the five-week wait, the two-child cap, the hideous rape clause.

“But to then target people who are working who are on Universal Credit because their income is low, to be targeting them and threatening them that they need to find higher-paid work or more hours, when that’s not within their gift, is just a horrendous thing.”

Robison said the new site will provide a “lifeline” to people facing mammoth pressures on their finances.

She added: “We have allocated almost £3 billion in this financial year to contribute towards mitigating the increased cost of living crisis and the new website highlights the wide range of support at hand.

"Our package spans a range of support, for energy bills, childcare, health and travel, as well as social security payments that are not available anywhere else in the UK. The website is an important signpost towards them all.

“The cost of living crisis is impacting every household in the UK and the Scottish Government will continue to do everything within its powers and finite budget to ensure people are supported as far as possible.”

You can access the site here