Don’t wait to seek debt help

Published on: 30 Jan 2014

Hilary Kitchen, of Christians Against Poverty

A DESPERATE man hammered on the door of Haven House in Staple Hill. After he was welcomed in, he broke down in tears as he told of his financial problems.

Hilary Kitchen, of Christians Against Poverty, listened to the visitor’s woes and helped him decide how to tackle the crisis.

First step was to sign up to the charity’s free debt help service, which is open to everyone, not just Christians.

Haven House CAP centre opened five years ago and is one of 230 nationwide. It is supported by the congregation at Christ Church, Downend, and the church centre in Quakers Road, Bromley Heath.

Hilary works with about 50 new clients a year. People in need can call in person at Haven House but most will be referred to him after ringing a national helpline number.

“If they are in immediate need of food, we are able to supply them with food donated by church members,” he said. “This is not part of the CAP service; it is just a demonstration of God’s love.”

The centre is also a voucher holder for food banks in the area.

Hilary visits clients at home and they are given support from CAP’s trained debt counsellors to work out a budget that prioritises essential bills. The charity also negotiates affordable payments with creditors and tries to stop unfair interest and charges.

In most cases, a CAP account, a simple bank account, is set up into which the client pays a regular sum to cover bills and debts and the charity distributes it on their behalf.

CAP also runs money management courses and job clubs.

Nine million people in the UK are suffering with debt but only one in five seeks help. Statistics show the majority wait three more than three years before asking for assistance but the message from CAP is “don’t wait”.

“It can be hard to admit help is needed but debt is very difficult to escape without professional assistance,” said Hilary.

“We know that people with debt are already often dealing with other problems; job loss or relationship problems, low income or illness, so we want to take the pressure off and give them the space to deal with some of that.

“It’s all about taking that first step, knowing no one will pass judgement. We just want to look forward to the future.”

The CAP number is 0800 328 0006.


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