Civic dignitaries and volunteers gather to celebrate Clitheroe debt help centre's 10th anniversary

A free local debt counselling service is celebrating a decade of helping Ribble Valley residents and their families sort out their finances.

Monday, 22nd November 2021, 3:45 pm

St James’ Church, Clitheroe, launched the centre in partnership with UK charity Christians Against Poverty (CAP) in November 2011 - just as the austerity measures began. To mark both this local 10th anniversary and the 25th anniversary of CAP UK, double celebrations were held recently.

A CAP Celebration service was held at St James’ Church, with the church decorated with strings of paper people, representing the 164 local cases (and many more individuals) helped by

CAP Clitheroe over those 10 years. This was followed later in the week by a special anniversary lunch attended by volunteers, clients, representatives of local agencies and the Mayors of Ribble Valley Borough and Clitheroe Town Councils.

Ribble Valley Mayor Coun. Tony Austin and Clitheroe Town Mayor Simon O' Rourke with Graham Haldane enjoy the 10 year celebrations

Graham Haldane, Clitheroe Debt Centre Manager, spoke of his passion for the work of CAP. He said: “Many people assume that debt and poverty are not a problem in the Ribble Valley. But the presence of services such as CAP and our local Foodbank are a response to the many people in our area who find themselves in financial difficulties. The most common reason is low income, but issues like mental and physical illness, relationship breakdown, bereavement and unemployment can all lead to debt. And debt in turn can lead to further problems, with some people even becoming suicidal as they don’t see any way out of their situation.”

In referring to the people chains, Graham added: “These don’t just represent ‘cases’, they represent people, individual people who all have different needs and stories. It’s a privilege to be able to meet them in their own homes and help them on their journey out of debt.” Graham and his team of volunteers continue to offer a unique, free, face-to-face service in the community, backed up by financial experts at CAP’s head office, and have the capacity for more clients.

Graham also talked about the CAP Money Course, which had been running online during the Covid pandemic, and is now running as face-to-face courses again. As well as courses open to anyone, the St James' CAP Money team have also been developing the course for use with organisations working with ex-offenders and ex-addicts, and are aiming to use kids, youth and students versions of the course in local schools once Covid levels have abated.

He went onto say: “I recommend everyone should do CAP Money at some point. Most of us have never been taught how to manage our money effectively and many of us live only a pay cheque or two away from debt. CAP Money gives a range of strategies for helping our cash flow, avoiding overdrafts and debt, and creating savings. Managing our money better actually brings a sense of freedom.”

The anniversary events were held during national "Talk Money Week", and CAP continues to urge people affected by debt to seek help as soon as possible. There are local CAP centres throughout Lancashire. You can call CAP today on 0800-328-0006 or visit www.capuk.org.