Don’t blame Christmas for debt problems

Pat Hanson - Christians Against Poverty
Pat Hanson - Christians Against Poverty

PEOPLE shouldn’t blame Christmas for their debt problems, according to a Burntisland-based charity.

Staff at Christians Against Poverty (CAP) expect this week to be their busiest as the number of people contacting the centre for free debt counselling reaches its annual peak.

Pat Hanson (pictured), manager of the charity - which also covers Kirkcaldy - said the influx is not caused by Christmas alone.

She said: “It is simplistic to think people have done too much shopping at Christmas and then call organisations like ours for help in January.

“Many of the situations I see are very serious. People fear losing their homes and creditors are constantly on the telephone causing enormous stress - that doesn’t happen overnight.”

The Kirkcaldy and Burntisland Centre, which is run in partnership with Burntisland Parish Church, gives a face-to-face free service where every client is seen in their own home.

Difficulties

Pat continued: “They get the chance to talk through difficulties, often built up over a long period of joblessness, or low income, sometimes mixed with other issues like relationship breakdown or family illness.

“CAP then gets to work negotiating with creditors to stop interest payments while helping the client to budget and stick to a repayment plan or explore insolvency options.

“During the year most people call the centralised booking line on a Monday.

“In the New Year people long for that fresh start to find some order and over Christmas they’ve had time to find the courage to do it.

“Also many of those who recommend our services such as Council tax or housing officers, return to work following the break which serves to make it a busier time as they deal with a seasonal backlog.”

To find out more about CAP’s free debt counselling visit its website at www.capdebthelp.org or telephone the centre for advice on 0800 328 0006.