Northern Ireland news

People struggling with debt due to pandemic 'should seek help now'

The coronavirus pandemic has left many people in debt

PEOPLE struggling with debt due to the coronavirus pandemic must get help now, a leading anti-poverty charity has warned.

Christians Against Poverty (CAP), which helps people manage their debts, said it was concerned many of those who are struggling financially do not know where to turn for free help.

A report by CAP last year showed that its average client in Northern Ireland owed more than £20,000 at the height of their debts.

Almost 60 per cent of CAP's clients waited over a year before seeking advice, the report found. The charity said people aged between 18 and 25 were least likely to seek support.

One client, known as Ciara, had run up debts by using shopping catalogues.

When one of her elderly relatives fell ill and she had to reduce her working hours to look after him, she struggled to cope.

She tried to manage her debts alone for five or six years but said the "stress of it all affected my sleep, my eating and my health and just impacted on every aspect of my life".

Once she called CAP and met her debt coach she said she felt "relief immediately".

"They were able to sort things to allow me to pay off my debts in just over a year," she said. "I could concentrate on getting on with my life."

Helen Webb from CAP said many people's debts are growing because of the pandemic.

“Many people are in a similar position right now so you’re not alone in your financial struggle," she said.

If you are struggling with debt and need help, contact CAP on 0800 328 0006 or visit

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