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Debt charity sets on new worker to cope with demand

By matthew murray, Sports Reporter Friday 6th December 2013
New recruit: Claire Riley

A debt help charity in Barnsley has had to set on another worker to combat waiting lists of up to three months.

 

More than 80 families have already been helped by Christians Against Poverty, but with people having to wait for months to have their case assessed, they have set on someone else to cope with demand.

 

It claims a third of clients have had suicidal thoughts, while more than half have consulted a GP over stress-related illness caused by debt.

 

Centre manager Jonathan Tweedle said: "There are some desperate situations out there and people are leaving it too late before they get in touch. We've been in Barnsley since June 2012, and we're now booked up three months in advance waiting to see new people who have contacted us asking for help.

 

"It's shocked us how bad the situation is in Barnsley. Some people are suicidal while others are deeply depressed. Debt is ruining their lives – they're too scared to answer their door, take a phone call or even open their curtains. That's why we are here to help."

 

Jonathan, who attends Gateway Church on Mottram Street which runs a foodbank every week, says Christians Against Poverty – a national charity based in Bradford – contacts creditors on clients' behalf and sets out a budget to help people get debt free.

 

He added: "One guy in Barnsley came to us with a pile of debt and in a needy situation. He was having panic attacks, he'd turned to drink and his life was a real mess. Over a period of seven months, he's totally turned his life around and is so much happier.

 

"Many of our clients don't have faith but it's because of our faith that we do this. We unashamedly tell people that we're Christians and will pray for clients as well as giving them practical advice."

 

Jonathan said the new worker Claire Riley, who attends St George's Church, will spend two days a week working for the centre in a voluntary capacity as a debt coach.

 

Claire said: "It's an exciting task but a daunting one. The fact that people get in touch with us in the first place is quite amazing because you wouldn't expect so many people to be struggling with debt and needing help, but they're out there and it's our job to help them.

 

"People are taking out loans for everything and it's literally wrecking families. Hopefully we can assist them, give them a budget to work to and take the worry off of them."

 

Contact Christians Against Poverty on 0800 328 0006 for debt advice.

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