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Help managing debts

Published: 17 Jan 2012 07:300 comments

A DEBT advice charity says it is experiencing the highest number of people needing help since it was set up five years ago.

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Christians Against Poverty (CAP), based at Kerith Community Church in Church Road, Bracknell, offers free financial support and advice to individuals and families.

The charity is supporting

130 households in Bracknell, Woking-ham, Crowthorne, Sandhurst and Ascot and has a three-month waiting list for initial appointments.

Andy Jackson, from CAP, said this should not put people off getting in touch and added it would prioritise urgent cases so people could be seen quicker than that.

He said an increased awareness that debt is an issue, knowledge that help is available and the turbulent economic climate, is to blame for the number of people experiencing financial difficulty.

He said: "There is a three-month waiting list but we wouldn't want to put people off getting help.

"We are trying to do all we can to get that waiting list reduced and see more people. If there are urgent cases we will always see them urgently."

He added: "We have always had a waiting list but it has got longer. We started five years ago and originally it was me three days a week - now there are five of us.

"We are looking to increase the number of people who can help, we just need to find the funding."

Those in need receive ongoing support, which can last from six months to three years. Over the past five years the charity has helped more than 500 people, and January is a particularly busy time.

Mr Jackson said: "After Christmas we start to think about the new year and sort out our situations. We are really busy, but we anticipate being busier.

"Now is a good time to think 'what can I get sorted this year.' Debt can bring such pressure.

"Between us, the Citizens' Advice Bureau and National Debtline, there is free advice out there. I would

really encourage people to get free advice rather than pay for it."

Mr Jackson also warned against the temptation to sign up for pay day loans, where the borrower can sometimes find themselves unable to pay it back.

He said: "We have definitely seen an increase in the last year with people who have taken pay day loans and who miss payments. We really encourage people to get advice first because there is always a solution, we can always help people get out of debt."

To book an appointment to see a debt coach at CAP call 0800 328 0006 or 01344 828805.

Tips on managing money:

• Work out a budget: You cannot beat sitting down and writing down what income you have coming in and what you are spending on and seeing what amount you have at the bottom.

• Get help: If you are struggling, be realistic about what you will be able to manage yourself without help. Don't be ashamed about it. There are people who want to help.

• Know what you are spending on the basics: Work out your payments for food, gas, electricity, water, council tax, rent or mortgage payments and prioritise these.

• Save on fuel: What do you really need to spend rather than just filling up the car.

• Use cash: Avoid paying with cards.

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