Buxton’s debt counselling charity Christians Against Poverty (CAP) has today issued a stark warning of the dangers of relying heavily on credit to fund Christmas.
With a month to go before the big day, the organisation, which helps people with spiralling debts, wants people to do their Christmas shopping with a clear strategy.
Buxton CAP centre manager Brett Hagger said: “These are difficult times for a lot of us and the temptation is to say, ‘at least we’ll have a great Christmas’ and use that as an excuse to spend what we haven’t got.
“If you’ve already caught yourself saying this, we want your alarm bells to be ringing loud and clear.
“Over indulging on presents for everyone in a mile radius is no longer in fashion.
“Most of us have seen our income squeezed significantly and will be scaling back so we mustn’t feel the pressure to over consume.”
Half of those with out-of-control debt who contact CAP have at some time taken out a loan to cover the cost of the festive season, according to the charity’s own national client statistics.
Many of those then went on to lose their homes, be unable to feed and clothe their children, suffer mental health problems and even consider suicide.
“We just want people to enjoy Christmas as the time of hope and celebration it ought to be and not herald the start of a terrible downward spiral,” he added.
The local centre, based at Buxton, which opened in late 2010, gives free face-to-face debt counselling to all quarters of the community, not just Christians.
The service is unique because the charity visits people in their own home, sets a budget, contacts creditors and then offers holistic support until the client is debt free – often within five years.
Buxton and New Mills are two of 190 such church-based centres tackling UK poverty head on.
l To find out if CAP can help you with your debt, call 0800 328 0006 or visit www.capuk.org