Julia den Hartogh and Mijntje Zaat (Hogeschool Utrecht, the Netherlands) have developped a new method for schools (or youth workers) to talk about debt. It is called Dossier Help Mij (File: Help Me). Students (target ages: 17-21 years) receive a file in which they find a diary, letters and bankstatements. The students have to find out what the problems are, which have priority and… where/how to get help. The materials are free to use and can be downloaded on http://bit.ly/DossierHelpMij

At the moment there is only a Dutch version. If there are questions/demands about adapting this method to another country/language please contact us.


5 different files – 5 different people

Personas are based on debt research done a.o. by the Hogeschool Utrecht. In a period of approx. 6 months diary entries with pictures about the following subjects:

  1. Sem a game addict who is struggling with ADHD and want to live on his own. He doesn’t know what he wants in life. He is bullied and escapes in to the comfortable virtual gameworld in which he is ‘king’.
  2. Amba, a 17-year-old who got pregnant by her on-off boyfriend. She hasn’t finished her education and is thinking about dropping out. Her mum doesn’t support her pregnancy. Amba finds comfort in eating and shopping.
  3. Majid had to work hard as a teenager for rent at his uncles butcher shop. He wants to get rich fast, hence is a courier for a shady company without a driving license. Majids (much) older girlfriend pays all Majids bills. They frequently fight about money.
  4. Amanda loves animals and dabbles in animal rights activism. She struggles to survive with the little income she has. Ideology versus real life.
  5. Kelly is a die-hard party animal. She just moved in to her own apartment but takes no responsibility for the bills. She heavily leans on her parents; financially but also as a taxi service when she has been clubbing.


Guide for the teacher

There are multiple ways to use the diaries/files in the classroom.

  • Discussion topic. After reading it what does the class think about….
  • Making assignments (group work). 1) Name the problems persona X is facing. 2) Make a budget overview – notice anything out of the ordinary 3) Regarding the problem, which ones should be tackled first? 4) How do you tackle the problems? Which organisations to turn to? Where do you go for help? Etc.



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