Don’t blame Christmas for debt says charity on its busiest day

CHRISTMAS is unfairly blamed for the influx of people needing debt help in January, says a charity.

Christians Against Poverty (CAP) says that Jan 28th it expects to have its busiest day on record as the number of people ringing for its free debt counselling reaches its annual peak.

Alison Flanagan, manager of the local Dungannon CAP centre, said that the influx is not just caused by the festivities alone.

“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 phone causing enormous stress – that doesn’t happen overnight.”

The Dungannon Centre, which is run in partnership with the Vineyard Church, gives a face-to-face free service where every client is seen in their own home.

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 illness in the family.

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. The busiest day of the year is expected to be January 28, the nearest Monday to last year’s busiest day, January 30.

“When the New Year comes along, 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 the professionals who recommend our services such as rates 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 see or call 0800 328 0006