Do Christmas without credit, charity urges

Paul Bailie from Lisburn Christians Against Poverty. Pic by Cliff Donaldson
Paul Bailie from Lisburn Christians Against Poverty. Pic by Cliff Donaldson

A free local debt counselling service is urging Lisburn people to save and stay in the black this Christmas.

The appeal comes from Paul Bailie, Lisburn Christians Against Poverty (CAP) Debt Centre Manager, as the countdown to the festive season begins.

Run by 14 churches in the Lisburn and Hillsborough area, the local debt centre opened three years ago and has helped more than 70 people - singles, couples and families - with debt problems. So far, 35 have become debt free.

“With personal borrowing on the rise, we are warning people to plan what they are going to spend this Christmas and save as much as they can. This way, with nearly 100 days to go, they can enjoy a Christmas without credit,” Mr Bailie said.

“Every year we see people whose finances were already fragile, but too much Christmas spending pushed them over the edge. It doesn’t have to be that way if you start early. Just saving £5 per week now will give you £70 to spend on presents and food.

“Of course, we’re missing a trick if we think Christmas is only about spending money. Memories are not about which label we buy, they are made by spending time together with family and friends. Once you’ve started to prepare, you can get that perspective instead of the usual last minute panic that can result in credit and the worry that follows.”

All debt clients are visited in their home by members of the local CAP centre who explain the service face-to-face and collect their paperwork. Meanwhile, specialist teams at CAP head office negotiate with creditors and create a workable budget, enabling each person to become debt free.

“If you are struggling to pay the bills, and you’re being chased for money you don’t have, please let us help you. One phone call (0800 3280006) could be the difference between a merry Christmas or a miserable one,” Mr Bailie added.

CAP’s services are available to everyone regardless of age, gender, faith or background.

For more information about the services provided by Christians Against Poverty log on to capuk.org