Blue Monday: Debt counselling charity ready for busiest day of the year

Jemma McDougall, centre manager at the Bethany Christian Centre, Houghton.
Jemma McDougall, centre manager at the Bethany Christian Centre, Houghton.
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A DEBT counselling charity is today bracing itself for one of its busiest days of the year.

Research by Christians Against Poverty (CAP), which has branches in Houghton and Sunderland, has revealed the second Monday in February is expected to bring a flood of calls from householders suffering money troubles.

Already this year, staff have seen calls for debt help from across the UK soar by 69 per cent compared with the same period last year.

Centre manager Jemma McDougall, who is based at the Bethany Christian Centre, in Houghton, said: “We’re keen to hear from people who are struggling to pay the bills or feed their families.

“We want to hear from people who have lost track of their debts and are suffering sleepless nights.

“Our service is ideally placed for them.”

Jemma said the start of the year brings a flurry of calls from people who typically have problems which have spiralled out of control over many months and years.

Figures from the charity show six in 10 residents are worried about losing their homes while a quarter are regularly missing meals.

“It’s not just a bit of overspending at Christmas,” said Jemma.

“They tend to call in January and February because they can’t face doing so in the days leading up to the festivities and they prefer to sort things when the children are at school.”

Statistics show that Monday is the most popular day of the week to call for debt help, and mid February sees an annual peak in calls.

Jemma said: “People tell us that calling for help with something as personal as finances is the hardest thing to do.”

She added: “They are surprised and relieved to find that we don’t judge them.

“Our job is to find a positive way forward.”

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