28/01/2016

Churches urged to help those struck by post-Christmas debt

January is the peak time for people contacting debt advice services and this year the numbers are expected to reach levels not seen since before the 2008 financial crisis.

Churches as hubs of the local community are in one of the best positions to offer support people who are struggling with debt.

Julia Webster Church Credit Champions Network Coordinator said “By offering your church building to debt advice and credit union services as an outreach centre you can enable these vital services to be accessed easily by your community.” 

Free debt signpost training from the Church Credit Champions Network is available to church and food bank volunteers, giving them the skills they need to get people in touch with expert help quickly. The training takes about an hour and between 5 and 30 people can be trained at one time. Covering areas such as the various causes of debt, how to respond when someone reveals they are in debt, referring someone to suitable support and the debt advice process.

Partnership with local Credit Unions can increase the offer of support. Credit Unions across the Merseyside region contributed greatly to the amount of money local people had to spend in the run up to Christmas. Based on figures collated by the Church Credit Champions Network, local Credit Union members drew out almost £1million from their Christmas savings accounts and borrowed a further £14 million from Credit Unions to fund their Christmas festivities.

Julia Webster continues “The fantastic thing about joining a Credit Union is that you have to save in order to be a member.  Saving regularly transforms the way in which people manage their money.  Rather than living day to day or week to week they begin to plan for the future as they see their savings grow.”

To find out more about how your church can get involved and to arrange free debt signpost training contact Julia Webster at Julia.webster@togetherliverpool.org.uk or call 0151 705 2194.