ANYONE can find themselves in debt; it is no respecter of age, social class, creed or otherwise and can drive its victims to despair, hopelessness, maybe even suicide.
If that is the situation that you or someone you know is in, there is an organisation called Christians Against Poverty (CAP), which is now active in the Ballymena and Antrim areas and can help you get on a journey towards freedom from debt.
CAP is a free national debt counselling charity. The help it offers in available to everyone regardless of age, gender, background or belief.
Robert Jones, who is manager of Christian Against Poverty in Antrim says: “CAP’s mandate is to relieve poverty and bring social justice to those in need through a top-quality and award-winning debt counselling service in partnership with local churches, so that people can experience and respond to the love of Jesus.”
“We take on people’s financial burdens, giving them hope for the future instead of judging them. We are passionate about doing this because we believe it is God’s desire that we reach out to a hurting local community.”
Talking about the CAP ‘5-Step Plan’ to free people from debt, Robert went on to say: “During Step one, we visit clients at home several times in order to listen to them and assess the facts of their debt.
“In Step two, CAP works out a realistic budget, by prioritising essential bills, negotiating affordable payments with creditors and working to stop unfair interests and charges.”, he added.
“Step three – a CAP account, which acts like a simple bank account, is set up and the client makes a weekly or monthly payment into the account to cover all bills and debts which we then distribute on their behalf with no additional charges”, said Robert.
“Step four – If the debt is too great and insolvency is the only route then we will walk clients through this, help them with insolvency costs in cases of severe hardship, fill out forms and attend court with them.
“Finally in Step five, clients use their CAP account to pay their bills and are supported by a team at CAP headquarters and a local befriender until they are debt-free.”.
If you or someone you know is feeling low, depressed, ashamed or fearful over mounting debt, call CAP on 0800 328 0006.
Offering words of encouragement, Robert said: “The biggest thing I have noticed in just six months is hopelessness turning to hope in just a couple of visits. We have seen people’s tears of fear and desperation turn into hope and laughter because we are taking the burden off them. We are not adding anything to their debts and we are not paying their debts for them, we are simply managing these.
“I have not seen a client yet who cannot journey out of their debt, but they need help and someone to trust to support that journey; someone who is interested in them and will support them until they get back to a debtfree situation,” he concluded.