CHURCHES in Weston-super-Mare are urging people impacted financially through the Covid-19 pandemic to seek help now and not allow their debts to build up further.

The Weston Area Christians Against Poverty (CAP) Debt Centre based in Weston is offering free help to local people facing money problems, as part of the charity's effort to reduce UK poverty through debt counselling, money management, job clubs, life skills groups and other support.

The Weston Area CAP Debt Centre is supported by around 18 local churches within the Weston area, which contribute regularly and provide volunteers to help with clients.

Weston Debt Centre manager Paul Larcombe said: “We know that many people wait as long as three years before finding help with their debts.

“At first it may seem like you can manage a drop in income but, when bills start to get missed, debt can rapidly build up until it becomes unmanageable.

“Debt can be caused by many different reasons - ill health, bereavement, relationship breakdown or low income - so it may not just be due to the pandemic, although we know that many people in our area have had a reduction in hours or income and may be struggling.

“Getting help as early as possible can make a big difference.

“We want everyone in our area to know that our service is here, completely free of charge.

“We don’t want anyone going into the winter and towards Christmas worrying about how they’ll manage.”

Since the pandemic hit, the CAP Debt Help service has adapted to follow social distancing guidelines to stay safe while still offering debt help and support across the local area.

This support includes helping clients with practical things such as linking up with local food banks, arranging emergency fuel top-ups and a friendly voice at the end of a phone.

CAP client Jude said: “Being in debt was awful. I dreaded the postman.

"Every time he came it was just debt, debt, debt.

"I was completely alone and there was no one to talk to.

"I had to cut back a lot, skipping meals and going without different things.

"Then I got in touch with CAP. It was amazing.

"You get these lovely people who are prepared to help and do whatever they can. They’re so kind.

"Because I was going without meals, they brought me a big bag of stuff from the church’s food bank.

"At last someone was here to listen to me and help me. I could finally breathe.”

Larcombe added: “It doesn’t matter whether people have reached the desperation Jude faced, or whether they’ve just begun to struggle.

"We are able to help and are determined to do whatever we can to alleviate the additional pressure that many people are facing as they negotiate loss of or low income.

“We may all be affected by this pandemic but we’re not all in the same boat. Asking for help is a positive step.”

If you are struggling with debt and need help, you can get in contact with CAP today on 0800 328 0006 or by visiting the website here.