Fenland debt counselling centre expecting lots of calls

CALL numbers to a Fenland debt counselling service are expected to hit new highs in the next few weeks, the charity has revealed.

Statistically, Mondays are the most common day to ring for help with 2010’s busiest day being February 15, closely followed by the last two Mondays in January.

“The best thing someone with spiralling debts can do is be brave and tackle the problem, because it won’t get better by itself,” said Fenland’s Christians Against Poverty (CAP) Centre Manager, Sue Bradshaw.

“And, I think for many people, once the distraction of Christmas is over and the credit card bills land they see things with a new clarity and decide they must take action.

“It is a very busy time of year for us but we know asking for help is such a significant step on the road to financial recovery.”

The charity says the most common cause of debt is a sudden change in circumstance like ill-health in the family, job loss or relationship breakdown resulting in manageable payments quickly becoming impossible.

Further squeezes like the VAT rise and more expensive fuel mean the small amount to live on becomes increasingly unrealistic.

CAP has a freephone number manned centrally by staff who book an appointment for a local representative to visit the client in their own home, a unique element of the free, in-depth service.

Sue said: “Many of our clients have a “drawer of doom and gloom”, the place where the scary letters go which they daren’t open. We’re happy to take those away and deal with them, get those threatening phone calls and visits to stop and tackle the root of the problem, looking after people until they are completely debt-free.”

She added that many clients say how grateful they are for the non-judgemental face-to-face support they receive from the start.

Nationally, 1,066 people became debt free through this service in 2010, either by sticking to a carefully worked-out budget or through insolvency.

CAP, which celebrates its 15-year anniversary in 2011, has won plaudits from money experts Martin Lewis and Jasmine Birtles on ITV and was even described as “fantastic” by Prince Charles in a TV interview last year.

It is a growing charity with 150 church-based centres across the UK and the ambitious vision of providing a centre in every town and city by 2015.

Fenland’s centre, based at Centenary Baptist Church, is already one of four in the region, with centres also in Huntingdon, Cambridge and Peterborough.

With a money management course, toddlers group and church open all the time, running a CAP Centre is just part of the work of the church in caring for the local community.

• To find out more about CAP visit www.capuk.org or call 0800-328-0006.