Divine intervention as churches offer help to debt victims

Andrew Kingston

Andrew Kingston Buy this photo

First published in News Oxford Mail: Photograph of the Author by , Reporter covering Witney and West Oxfordshire. Call me on 01865 425483

CHURCHES are to act as a middle-man in fending off debt collectors.

The Christians Against Poverty charity will open two new debt counselling centres in Oxford and Witney in a bid to offset financial worries.

Volunteers will help people in debt to find a solution by visiting their homes and working out a payment plan while negotiating with finance companies.

Witney centre manager Andrew Kingston said: “If someone is sat in a bank being asked to give back the money then we can come along and tell the bank what kind of difficult situation they are in.

“We will identify that they are in real trouble and ask for them to be dealt with in a more reasonable way.

“With a bit of intervention the individual can get on with their lives knowing they can eventually lead a normal life again rather than being harrassed by people they owe money to.”

A branch is based in the Welcome Evangelical Church in Witney’s High Street.

Another centre is due to open in St Clement’s Church in Cross Street, Oxford, in July. Trained volunteers will visit people in debt at home and work out how much they can pay over a certain time period, prioritising debts such as rent and heating costs.

Mr Kingston, a former finance counsellor for students at Oxford University, said: “It’s a service that Christian people want to deliver to the whole community. There’s no constraints in terms of belief.

“The big difference that we offer compared to the likes of the Citizens’ Advice Bureau and help websites is that we can go and see people in their own homes.

“We can give them an understanding of what their situation is and a plan on how to get out of it, including support to change their expenditure patterns.”

The Witney-based Oxfordshire West Food Bank last month reported a rise in the number of people using it since opening two years ago and this was one of the reasons Welcome Evangelical Church member Mr Kingston believes the centre is needed.

He said: “We knew from our own experience in the town and surrounding area that there are people who have found it very difficult financially.”

s For more information, call Mr Kingston at the centre on 07780161210.

 

Comments (4)

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2:34pm Sat 31 May 14

Amazinganman says...

Well done to the church as they do have vast amounts of cash to throw around..
Well done to the church as they do have vast amounts of cash to throw around.. Amazinganman
  • Score: 1

3:57pm Sat 31 May 14

Andrew:Oxford says...

Home visits are a great idea.

It shows there is a clear market for this - perhaps it's something the CAB and the local authority groups should consider? Far better than stuck in the office all day.

Better still, I'd like to see job centre and benefits staff do home visits - get to really understand their customer's circumstances.

(Clearly the scarey people would still have to go into the office for the safety of staff).
Home visits are a great idea. It shows there is a clear market for this - perhaps it's something the CAB and the local authority groups should consider? Far better than stuck in the office all day. Better still, I'd like to see job centre and benefits staff do home visits - get to really understand their customer's circumstances. (Clearly the scarey people would still have to go into the office for the safety of staff). Andrew:Oxford
  • Score: 1

6:58pm Sat 31 May 14

Myron Blatz says...

Aha! Didn't Jesus start this, by throwing the money lenders out of the temple? One could interpret Christian Church involvement as trying to promote their faith and individual branches of Christianity and religion in communities, raher than offering non-religious help and direction - such as CAB, or advice centres such as Rose Hill & Donnington. provide. Perhaps of greater help would be for the current Tory-led Coalition Government to outlaw not only the 'pay day' loansharks we see mentioned in the Press and on tv, but also all financial institutions who sell debt and 'products' of a dubious nature. Perhaps we should also be rdirectly controlling both he banks and financial services sector, not paying lip-service to the fiasco of 'self regulation' inherited from the days of Thatcher, and continued under Tony Blair to court non-socialist and working-class 'middle England' voters toward his vision of New Labour - Old Thatcherism! Ed Miliband may now prefer to ignore Blair's lost opportunity of reforming the banks, financial services sector and con-men of old, but perhaps like Jesus we have to have one political leader willing to tell one 'satan' to bog-off, and get rid of them all? Remember, if you think we coildn't survive without the City of London and its capitalist cronies, that when Gordon Brown bailed-out the banks, he did so using £billions of public money, and for which the tax payers, small business people and pensioners have seen massive spending cuts on public services affecting everyone.
Aha! Didn't Jesus start this, by throwing the money lenders out of the temple? One could interpret Christian Church involvement as trying to promote their faith and individual branches of Christianity and religion in communities, raher than offering non-religious help and direction - such as CAB, or advice centres such as Rose Hill & Donnington. provide. Perhaps of greater help would be for the current Tory-led Coalition Government to outlaw not only the 'pay day' loansharks we see mentioned in the Press and on tv, but also all financial institutions who sell debt and 'products' of a dubious nature. Perhaps we should also be rdirectly controlling both he banks and financial services sector, not paying lip-service to the fiasco of 'self regulation' inherited from the days of Thatcher, and continued under Tony Blair to court non-socialist and working-class 'middle England' voters toward his vision of New Labour - Old Thatcherism! Ed Miliband may now prefer to ignore Blair's lost opportunity of reforming the banks, financial services sector and con-men of old, but perhaps like Jesus we have to have one political leader willing to tell one 'satan' to bog-off, and get rid of them all? Remember, if you think we coildn't survive without the City of London and its capitalist cronies, that when Gordon Brown bailed-out the banks, he did so using £billions of public money, and for which the tax payers, small business people and pensioners have seen massive spending cuts on public services affecting everyone. Myron Blatz
  • Score: 0

1:10am Sun 1 Jun 14

Dilligaf2010 says...

How about the pope opening up the vaults at the Vatican, the catholic church could probably clear half the world's debt, feed everyone that's starving, and still have enough money left to take everyone out for a pint.
How about the pope opening up the vaults at the Vatican, the catholic church could probably clear half the world's debt, feed everyone that's starving, and still have enough money left to take everyone out for a pint. Dilligaf2010
  • Score: 2

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