Centre opens to tackle debt crisis

debt counselling centre opening Christchurch office, George St.  Malcolm Richards
debt counselling centre opening Christchurch office, George St. Malcolm Richards

A debt counselling centre has opened in Hailsham - as figures show the town’s financial deprivation is on the rise.

The town was chosen as just one of 19 places across the country to host a centre offering free debt counselling advice.

It follows a rise of eight per cent in the number of people living in deprivation in Hailsham to 35 per cent, according to Hailsham centre manager Malcolm Richards.

Residents struggling with overwhelming debt problems will get free help from debt counselling charity Christians Against Poverty (CAP) in partnership with ChristChruch.

The centre’s bank of volunteers received their training this month and the first clients are expected to be helped in June.

The centre is one of four in the region, with others in Brighton, Hastings and Shoreham.

Malcolm Richards said: “We had information from the CAP that they had received lots of calls to help their help desk from our area.

“The latest statistics show that currently parts of Hailsham have levels of deprivation rising from 27 per cent last year to 35 per cent this year.

“The Church has always been about offering hope and we’re really pleased to be able to give a tried-and-tested route out of debt alongside other great free debt advice in the area like the Citizens Advice Bureau.

“In our society, a lot of poverty is debt-related so our congregation has been working hard to open a CAP centre to help get people back on track.

“Typically, debts can build up when a relationship breaks down, or someone loses their job, or through bereavement – so often when people are least able to cope with a financial headache.”

CAP offers a uniquely in-depth, caring service to people with spiralling personal debt regardless of their age, gender, faith or background. Every client is visited in their own home, the charity does all the negotiating with creditors and local volunteers offer support to each person face-to-face until the day they are debt free.

The charity has 233 centres around the UK currently supporting £75million of secondary debts for its clients.

The free debt CAP’s National PR Manager Marianne Clough said: “We have the financial knowhow and partner with local churches so we can put can put that know how with their caring.

“They go out and meet people in their homes and explain the service and take away all their unopened mail and we answer it for them.”

Visit www.capuk.org or call 0800 328 0006

Background

John Kirkby started Christians Against Poverty in 1996. He believed God was calling him to sacrifice his career in finance and use his knowledge of the industry to help the poor.

Christians Against Poverty is committed to being a good steward of our donors’ money. We are dedicated to using the gifts we receive to help our clients and transform lives in the best possible way. Every single pound we receive is directed to where it is needed most. In 2011 more than 78 per cent of its £6.5million expenditure in 2011 was used for debt counselling, direct aid to clients and CAP Money.

n his hometown of Bradford, John set off on the incredible journey of CAP. His faith adventure led him to people crippled by debt; parents who couldn’t feed their children, families facing eviction and desperate people living in fear and without hope. He used his expertise to negotiate with creditors, set up budgeting systems and offer a lifeline to those trapped in debt.

John knew that people all over the country were struggling in the same way and he began looking to replicate the work across the UK. With the vital ingredients of a church to partner with, a passionate person to be trained as a debt counsellor and the faith that God would provide, four new CAP centres were opened at the end of 1998.

Since then, CAP has rapidly grown its centre network and provides the best debt help service to those with the very least. CAP started running CAP Money Courses in partnership with local churches to help people budget, save and prevent debt. Our vision is to help answer the national problem of debt by opening a CAP Debt Centre and running a CAP Money Course in every town and city in the UK so anyone can receive CAP’s life changing help.