Churches’ drive against suicide

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Two local churches are urging people to contact them if they are feeling desperate about money worries.

Portadown’s Baptist Church in Thomas Street and Richhill Presbyterian Church are using the recent World Suicide Prevention Day to remind people that however bad debt problems look, there is always hope and a solution.

Trained members of the church run a Debt Help Centre in partnership with multi award-winning UK charity Christians Against Poverty (CAP) to provide a free service to local people.

Mid-Armagh CAP centre manager Leanne Briggs, who is based in Richhill, said, “More than a third of the people (34 per cent) who contact CAP about debt say they are feeling suicidal.

“They often talk about being trapped and say they feel unable to cope with the constant demands from creditors.

“We have a message for anyone who can relate to that – or anyone who knows them: let us fight this one for you.”

The process of becoming debt free begins with a home visit from CAP’s trained debt coaches Leanne, Gavin Graham and one of the befriending team; all the debts are discussed; the service is described and all the paperwork collected.

“People are often worried we’ll wag our fingers at them. On the contrary, we would never judge. We know life can get complicated and the unexpected can happen. What we look to do is find a way forward – that’s what we’re interested in,” said Leanne.

The paperwork is sent to CAP’s head office in Bradford, leaving each client with a pile of freepost envelopes to forward on any more creditors’ letters that might arrive.

Staff at the charity work out the best route out of debt and devise a budget for every client which is again explained face-to-face.

“Getting debt free isn’t easy but we will not just set you on course and let you get on with it, we will be there to support and encourage you all the way and that’s what makes CAP different,” added Leanne.

 For help with debt see capuk.org or call 0800 328 0006.