Debt centre working in Knowle West seeks befrienders

A free debt support centre for South Bristol which launched this year is looking for more befrienders to join the team – and is holding an event on 25 October.

Run by Christians Against Poverty (CAP) the new South Bristol CAP Debt Centre is based at Severn Vineyard Church in St Philips. 

It covers areas such as Knowle West, Bedminster and Stockwood as well as Hartcliffe and Bishopsworth. 

The new service has been made possible by a grant through Bristol Churches City Fund and is supported by a number of local churches – including The Cairn at Inns Court.

Debt Centre Manager, Rachel Goodchild, works with a team of befrienders who accompany her as she makes visits into people’s homes. 

She collects debt information for the CAP Central Office to create a budget plan and helps the client put it into practice. 

Clients are also invited to local church-based community events – but do not have to be members of a church to receive the service. 

Rachel explains: “We’ve been running in South Bristol since March and see around two to three clients a month. People have to self-refer or have a support worker refer them with their permission.

‘They are all now at various stages of their journey, insolvency, debt management plan, bankruptcy or debt relief order.

“We make three visits and take a befriender with us. Often clients are very depressed and suicidal or broken…

“Befrienders are the most important thing in all this. The debt is a symptom of something that is much larger and clients are often isolated and trapped in their homes. Just having a chat and friendly cup of tea can bring hope because people are crippled with fear if you have enforcement agencies knocking at your door…”

The new Centre is one of 300 across the UK and there are currently 16 local churches supporting it.

The Rev Phil Lawrence from The Cairn says: ‘We are so pleased… to have been able to play a very small part – along with many other individuals and churches – in facilitating the development of a local CAP Debt Centre here in South Bristol. 

“We sense there is a huge need for the kind of advice and approach offered by CAP in helping people to find freedom from the trappings imposed by debt…” 

Rachel is now looking to build up a team of befrienders to help in the Centre’s work. They are seeking friendly, sociable people who can offer one to one support to clients being helped by the CAP service.

A befriending event with more information and refreshments will take place on Friday 25 October from 7.30-9pm at the Severnvineyard Church offices, The Power House, 88 Feeder Road, St Philips BS2 OTH.

Anyone interested can email rachel.goodchild@severnvineyard.org   or call her on 0780 588 4 734.  For more information visit www.severnvineyard.org/capdebtcentre

For help with debt contact the New Client Enquiries Team on 01274 761 911.