Christians Against Poverty is encouraging people to get in touch if they are struggling with debt and hardship in the wake of COVID-19.
Christians Against Poverty’s General Manager, Sam Garaway, says he understands taking out short-term, high-cost loans can seem like the easiest way when there are bills and essentials to cover. But he says there is a better way.
“We understand people want to do the best for their families and will do whatever it takes to make ends meet. Our message is: Please, talk to the friendly team at Christians Against Poverty to get in control of your finances. We are here for you and our help is free.”
Garaway says Christians Against Poverty’s approach has helped around 1700 New Zealanders to go completely debt free and have twice as much money for essentials in their budget such as food, rent/mortgage, and utilities.
“After a budget with CAP, clients spend on average twice as much on food than before – we aim for $50 per person per week. Better yet, nine-out-of-ten clients remain debt-free and in control of their finances two years on.
“We visit people in the privacy of their homes to understand their situation and offer free confidential support. We negotiate affordable payments with each money lender and do our best to stop unfair interest charges.
“This takes a lot of pressure off our clients, many of whom are being hounded for repayments on a daily basis. We also set people up with a budget so they can provide for their families and are on track to go debt free.”
Garaway’s comments come after a survey released last month by the Commission for Financial Capability found 34% of households were in financial difficulty and a further 40% were at risk of tipping into financial difficulty during alert level four.
Data released by credit reporting agency Centrix also painted a concerning picture with a 23 per cent increase in applications for personal loans amongst people with low credit scores in March and a doubling of the number of people in hardship in April.
I felt like I was in this massive hole…”
Timaru resident Mark Diehl has experienced hardship first-hand as a former client of Christians Against Poverty. He recalls his financial situation “snowballing” which almost forced the break-up of his marriage. He says reaching out for free help from CAP made “all the difference” and he is now debt fee.
“I felt like I was in this massive hole and I was trying to get out, and then by calling Christians Against Poverty there’s this ladder coming over the hole coming down to meet me. It was relieving; somebody was on our side, somebody had our backs and there was no need to be afraid anymore.”
Sadly, Diehl will be made redundant from his current role in the retail construction sector later this month. But he says the good news is he has started a water blasting and heat pump servicing business without taking out a cent of debt thanks largely to money management skills learned on a CAP Money course.
“Most people in business start with huge loans. I haven’t. I’ve been saving what we had and putting it aside so that we could buy the necessary equipment to be able to start [the business]. And, you know, I’ve got all the equipment now, and I’ve started and we’ll see where it takes me!”
Diehl has one piece of advice for people struggling with debt: “Get the help you need. Call Christians Against Poverty!”
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Christians Against Poverty partners with more than 150 churches across Aotearoa to overcome debt and poverty by providing free debt counselling and community support. As a result, more than 1700 people have gone completely debt-free since 2007 and report leading lives of renewed hope and freedom. For free help visit capnz.org or call 0508 227 111.