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The journey to debt freedom

calendar18 September 2019

Claire Wong's avatar Claire Wong

The journey to debt freedom

When tragedy struck, Francella’s first priority was to be there for her family. Keeping on top of her finances was, understandably, not top of her list. But before long, she found herself not only newly widowed but also deep in debt.

‘My husband passed away suddenly. Left to pay everything by myself, the debts started to build up. I tried to repay what I owed but I wasn’t getting anywhere. I was getting loans to pay off loans. It was depressing.

I was still grieving – unable to sleep – but now I was also worrying about whether I’d ever pay off my debts. I suffer from high blood pressure. Anxiety kicks in and I can’t breathe. The stress was constant.

Then there were my kids. I couldn’t afford the things they needed. There were times when I couldn’t afford to feed them properly. They’d come home asking about school trips. What choice did I have but to say no? Sometimes I’d use the rent money so they wouldn’t miss out.

One Christmas, I had no money for presents, dinner, decorations or anything like that for the kids. All their friends were opening presents and they had none. You have to explain to them why you can’t give them certain things. As a mother, it’s hard.'

Sadly, this is all too familiar a story seen here at CAP. As a national charity dedicated to setting people free from poverty and demonstrating God’s amazing love, we help thousands of people like Francella every single year. Through unexpected circumstances like bereavement, illness or redundancy, it’s easy to suddenly slip into hardship.

Through face-to-face debt coaching, volunteer befrienders and a team of highly trained caseworkers, CAP steps into the lives of those overwhelmed by their finances.

‘I told a friend at church about my problem, and she introduced me to Christians Against Poverty. Ian, my CAP Debt Coach, came round and together we looked at how to manage my everyday life. CAP contacted my creditors and I started on a Debt Management Plan. Paying in every month was straightforward – CAP took into consideration what was coming in, what was going out and what we needed as a family. I even had money left over to put into savings in case anything came up.'

Helping clients learn to budget and save is only the beginning though. CAP’s Debt Coaches are always willing to pray with anyone who wants prayer, and every debt centre is planted firmly within the supportive community of a local church. Francella was encouraged by this, and felt more able to trust CAP because of that link.

‘I’d had a bad experience with a debt management company, so I was wary at first. When Ian offered to pray in the first visit, I started to get that bit of confidence. I’ve been going to church since I was small and my faith is something I believe in strongly.

CAP listen and they care. They don’t come to take your money, they just want to help you. It’s good to be able to open up to people and talk about your problems. They encouraged me a lot.

Volunteer befrienders meet up with CAP clients to offer emotional support. After all, if you’re struggling to make ends meet and it’s affecting your health, it’s good to have someone to talk to.

‘In the end, it took less than a year to pay everything off. That call telling me I was completely debt free – it was wonderful.

CAP also invited us on a Discovery Break for clients. We did so many activities! We even went to a water park. After everything they’d missed out on, the kids loved it.'

More and more clients like Francella celebrate becoming debt free every day. It’s not just about the fresh start financially, but about what that means for your family and for yourself.

'Now I have my own budget that I stick to and I’m better at organising my finances. I no longer get up thinking about debt every day, wondering whether I have enough money to feed my children.

My son, Devughan, is in secondary school. I can pay for him to go on some school trips. There’s one coming up soon and I’m so grateful he can go. I’m able to put money aside for my kids too, to save for their future. I’m happy now! My kids are happy.

I know that in the trials I faced the Lord has brought me through.'

For Francella, working with CAP hasn’t just resolved her money worries and supported her family, it’s also strengthened her faith. She’s seen what the Church can do to help those in need. When she was struggling, it was other Christians who gave her the practical and spiritual input to change her situation: a picture of Jesus’ words, ‘By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another’ (John 13:35).

‘If other people need help like I did, I’ll always introduce them to CAP. They helped me and I want to encourage others now.

I’d love to save up and visit my family in Jamaica. It’s been 15 years since I’ve seen them or been back home. If it wasn’t for CAP I’d still be paying my debts and it wouldn’t even be a possibility.'

What is a Debt Management Plan?

At CAP, our experienced Debt Advisors create a bespoke budget for each client, taking into account their individual circumstances. It allows families to live sustainably while paying their creditors monthly. We call this a Debt Management Plan.

It can take several years for some clients to repay their debts. We support them throughout.

For many, the Debt Management Plan is the first time they’ve learned how to manage their money. Like Francella, clients leave CAP knowing how to budget, save and avoid getting back into debt. 93% are still debt free five years on!

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