‘Before CAP I was desperate. I was alone and scared’

Volunteers from different organisations in Banbury held a debt awareness drop-in session in Castle Quay Shopping Centre on Monday. NNL-150128-095909001
Volunteers from different organisations in Banbury held a debt awareness drop-in session in Castle Quay Shopping Centre on Monday. NNL-150128-095909001

This time of the year sees people give themselves New Year resolutions such as losing weight or not eating as much chocolate.

But for those struggling to cope with the aftermath of the festive season, the 
post-Christmas rush to get finances sorted has begun in earnest.

Christians Against Poverty (CAP) has revealed that it expects to receive more calls for help than ever before.

Rather than the mythical peak known as ‘Blue Monday’ on January 19, they actually receive the most calls for debt help on the second monday in February – which this year lands on February 9.

Bonnie Nicholls is the debt coach at the Banbury centre based at the People’s Church on Horse Fair. She said: “Every week the busiest day for debt help calls is a Monday, when people have had time over the weekend to resolve to seek help.

“We see a rise in calls during January and February because most people can’t face tackling their finances before Christmas.

“When these two elements come together we see our busiest time.”

Recent research from CAP has shown that people often struggle for years with personal debt following income changes caused by events such as losing a job or a relationship breakdown.

The CAP centre in Banbury has limited availability in January and February.

The charity also has debt centres in Oxford, Witney and a newly-opened centre in Wallingford.

Mrs Nicholls said: “As our reach extends to more areas, with more debt coaches we are set to see more people booked in than ever before.

“In the first working week of 2015, CAP UK received 479 calls for debt help.”

Anyone seeking help can phone CAP where trained staff will book them in for a home visit from their local centre.

A CAP debt coach will spend time learning what has happened and show a way forward out of debt. Then all the person’s outstanding bills and letters from creditors are sent to CAP’s head office in Bradford.

The charity negotiates with each creditor on behalf of the client and draws up a budget to begin a pathway to becoming debt-free.

A client that has benefitted from CAP, who wished to remain anonymous, said: “Before CAP I was desperate. I was alone and scared.

“I didn’t think anyone cared about my situation but everyone really does care and it’s so nice to be invited to things again.

“CAP helped me through a very difficult time and introduced me to people who supported me along the way. I will never forget what they have done for me.”

Christians Against Poverty is a charity determined to reduce hardship in the UK with the help of local churches.

It does this through 270 debt counselling centres across the country; a money education programme called The CAP Money Course and CAP Job Clubs for unemployed people.

All this is given freely for everyone regardless of age, gender, faith or background.

Mrs Nicholls added: “Four in ten people believe that no-one can help them with their debts, according to some research we’ve done.

“It can feel like you’ve hit a brick wall but we will see ‘impossible’ situations where people get their debts cleared.

“There are people to help and it can get sorted, however complicated or dire it may seem.”

Call CAP on 0800 328 0006 or visit www.capuk.org