THE Newtownabbey branch of national debt counselling charity Christians Against Poverty (CAP) is experiencing its busiest period of the year.
The organisation revealed this week that more people call for help in mid February than at any other time of the year, as lingering Christmas costs compound other long-term difficulties.
Brian Givans has been helping local people with their finances since the Newtownabbey and North Belfast CAP Centre opened two years ago in partnership with Carnmoney Presbyterian Church. And the Carnmoney CAP Manger revealed that the local branch of the charity has helped more than 170 clients with debt problems in the past 12 months alone.
“We see every client in their own home and get to know their situation well. Of all the people we have seen, there is a common thread: the people who have ignored the problems the longest face the most extreme difficulties,” he explained.
New research from the charity shows that more clients named “problems with budgeting” as their main reason for getting into debt, followed by “unemployment” and “relationship breakdown”. Others said illness, bereavement and accidents played their part in a downward financial spiral.
“We hope that if you’re nervous of asking for help, you’ll know lots of other people are ringing us at the moment and that you’re not alone. However bad the problem looks, we can sort it out together,” Brian added.
CAP clients in Northern Ireland owe, on average, £21,010 compared with an average annual income of £15,379.
The charity offers help to everyone regardless of age, gender, faith or background.
For more information about the free help and advice available from CAP’s 11 Northern Ireland centres, log on to www.capdebthelp.org or call 0800 328 0006.