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CAP lend a hand
The manager of the Fleetwood Christians Against Poverty centre explains how it's never too late to seek help out of debt misery...
Dave Tudor says a record number are turning to CAP - an award winning national debt counselling charity - for help especially as the 'credit crunch' really starts to bite.
Tudor - who lives in Rossall - has run the Fleetwood CAP Centre since it was opened in 2005 in partnership with Emmanuel Church.
He talks about how CAP solves debt problems, how it is too easy to get into the loan trap and his best piece of financial advice...
Do you have to be Christian to get help from CAP?
No, not at all. CAP helps anyone regardless of their religious beliefs and aims to ensure nobody receives less favourable treatment on the grounds of race, nationality, religion, age, gender, marital status, sexual preference or disability.
What are the main reasons that people find themselves in debt?
People find themselves in debt for a number of reasons. Sometimes there are events beyond a client's control that impinge on them. People have trouble budgeting, some make bad financial decisions and some have addiction problems that cause financial difficulty. Gambling, drugs and alcohol are the main problems that I deal with daily. Sometimes debts have been the result of an addiction...or with spiralling debts people sometimes try and mask the problem with drugs or drink. To help clients we need to solve the cause of the problem so we refer people to our partners to help with health and mental health issues. Whatever the circumstances CAP do not judge anyone and only seek to move forward with a situation but can only do so with co-operation of both parties having a common focus and goal.
Are the problems people face in Fleetwood typical of the rest of the country?
Yes, they are indicative of the rest of the UK unfortunately. The UK personal debt is increasing by £1m every 4 minutes which is frightening.
Have you noticed a big increase in calls for help?
Yes and to help ease the situation over the past few months we have been running a CAP DIRECT SERVICE (0800 328 0006) which helps clients who do not have a centre near them and can make contact for help 5 days a week. This has been successful and is helping people daily but is another reminder of the increasing problem we face.
Does it scare you how much debt people are being allowed to get into?
It scares me how people do not focus on what they are getting but on what they want to buy which is the selling point for loans.
It seems a lot of people do not know the deal they sign up for in respect of loans or people don't ask someone to check for them. I can see that the vulnerable are easy targets for the loan industry.
So how exactly do you help people who find themselves in trouble?
The practicalities of CAP involve initially a visit to establish a person’s present financial position and completion of a financial statement. After this we open what we call a CAP Account which is the vehicle a client pays major bills (ie gas, electricity, council tax, water, etc.) with and we will know from the above mentioned statement how much is able to be offered to the Creditors and make appropriate offers (which we do) and these payments are paid via this account also. The amount of time estimated to pay creditors will determine the plan of action we present to a client.
We also get a lot of support from the local recovery agencies. When Wyre Borough Council find out we are looking after a client they do all they can to help such as putting a hold on bailiff instructions for non payment of council tax while we get the client back on their feet. They are firm but fair. We are very grateful for their support.
Is it ever too late for you to help?
It is never too late to help a client, however, there may (depending on circumstances) be very difficult choices to make as each client has a unique set of circumstances to deal with.
Are there any circumstances when you can’t work with people?
Generally, we work with all people apart from those who are self employed as there are other factors involved. We do, however, know where to refer self employed people to for the specific type of help they need. The only time we stop working with a client is when they don’t work with us or do things that counteract the process such as taking out further credit.
The service is free – so how do you fund it?
The service is free but it costs money to run. Money is raised via the Emmanuel Church as is the case at all our other centres nationwide. We do sponsored events, apply for grants and trusts but also we have a Life Changer programme where people regularly give what is affordable for the benefit of others. It encourages us when new people give donations as we know that money may save someone’s life.
Anyone can help by becoming a life changer - however small the amount per month. E-mail me on firstname.lastname@example.org if you want more information.
What is it like to work for CAP?
It is great to work for CAP - and that's official! CAP won the Sunday Times award being the best charity to work for. As Forrest Gump said, "Life is like a box of chocolates you never know what you are going to get!" No two days are the same and although we see many difficult situations we are privileged to have a part in seeing people move on in their lives.
How do you feel at the end of a typical working day?
At the end of a typical working day I am reminded of a story of a young boy looking at thousands of starfish on a beach throwing them back into the sea one by one. His father commenting about the futility of it all faced with so many, saying it doesn’t make any difference. The boy picked up a star fish threw it back into the sea and replied, "It made a difference to that one!" We can’t help everyone but we can make a difference to someone today one life at a time.
Can you offer any tips on damage limitation when you are in debt?
The best piece of financial advice I received from my father. If you can’t afford it don’t have it or save for it and buy it when you can. However, we all make mistakes and if someone finds themselves in debt don’t shy away but get help either from us 0800 328 0006 or talk to your debtors and creditors and work things out with them.
last updated: 01/10/2008 at 14:37
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