A CHARITY has launched a new crusade to help Wiganers struggling with debt after latest research showed that it has hit one in three of us.
Members of the borough’s Christians Against Poverty (CAP), a cause which cares for those in financial crisis, are calling for local folk in financial straits to seek free help through its Don’t Wait campaign.
The call comes after shocking figures from the independent Government-funded Money Advice Service placed the borough 54th out of 406 council areas in terms of debt woes.
And the charity’s own statistics show that the majority of people wait more than three years to ring them, but when they do, 94 per cent say it is “a great help” or “life-transforming.”
Wigan Centre Manager Nanette Hesketh said: “A lot of people just don’t realise that free help is available. And yet, there are various avenues like our charity CAP, Citizens Advice and the phone-based free ones like Stepchange.”
The report from the Money Advice Service was backed up by Bank of England’s figures saying household debt has hit new records.
From the first call to the friendly ladies on CAP’s booking line, the charity aims to instil a feeling of hope – vital when more than a third of callers say they are feeling suicidal.
Nanette added: “It can be hard to admit help is needed but debt is very difficult to escape without professional assistance.
“The debt charities like ours have the advantage on the individual because we are talking to the banks, and credit card and loan companies all day.
“Today’s campaign is about taking that first step, knowing no one will pass judgement. We just want to look forward to the future.”
Workers from the charity aim to visit each client in their own home. Its service is also unique in that the client hands all the letters and demands to Nanette and they are sent to CAP’s UK head office where experts negotiate with every creditor on the client’s behalf.
Nanette said: “We leave new clients with a pile of freepost envelopes and as they receive letters about their debts, they don’t have to worry anymore, they just pop them into the envelope and we sort it out. 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.”
The client is then set a budget and given a suggested route forward with a timescale of how long it looks likely to be until they are debt free – generally within five years.
The charity has been operating for 17 years and at any one time handles £73m of secondary debts, as well as helping with overdue household bills and rent or mortgage arrears.
For more information visit www.capuk.org or call 0800 328 0006.