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Help is at hand at Lowe in Finaghy

GOOD ADVICE: Nan Hill GOOD ADVICE: Nan Hill
By Ciara Quinn

HELP to ease the uncertainty, stress, and at times, fear of spiralling debt is at hand at Finaghy’s Lowe Memorial Church.

In a very successful partnership with CAP (Christians Against Poverty), Lowe offer services for debt advice, unemployment and addiction with all services free. CAP Centre Manager at Lowe Church Nan Hill explained the service can lift people out of debt.

“CAP is a source of free debt help in the north and we have CAP centres all over the six counties. We teach budgeting, how to help people into employment, life skills and help people with addictions,” she said.

“Most of our cases are referrals,” explained Nan, “and confidentially is of the upmost importance to us. We find that the three most commonest reasons for getting into debt are low income, mental health difficulties and the breakdown of relationships. People can self refer to avail of the CAP service and then we make contact over three visits with them to find out a little bit more about them.”

28-year-old Jonathan, told the Andersonstown News how he availed of CAP services to become debt free last year.

“I had heard of CAP before, My debt started small as you do think initially that you can handle it. For me it started with the normal consumer debt that people have, credit cards, that kind’ve thing. For years I had been working full time and making the minimum payments so it wasn’t an issue,” he said. “Just over five years ago I came out of full-time employment to become a carer for my grandmother who had dementia and was wheel chair bound. That was a changed financial position for me as I was in receipt of carer’s allowance. I was continuing to make payments until she passed away and there was a short grace period, but after a while I then dropped down to Jobseeker’s Allowance and thought I would get back to work fairly quickly – unfortunately that wasn’t the case and coming into the New Year I had depleted any savings I had and things started to get away from me.”

Jonathan spoke of how the weight of his debt, dealing with the bereavement of his grandmother and the strain overall became “pretty intense”. “I did have pre-existing battles with depression and that all just flared up and it came to the point were I knew I needed help.”

Jonathan continued: “I was referred to this debt centre here at Lowe Memorial. The first meetings were very relaxed and straightforward and I was able to get a practical budget, it wasn’t just an assessment but practical help as well.

“I was able to get a debt relief order, my overall debt was all secondary, it was relatively small, so if you fall within a certain criteria you can apply for a debt relief order. If your circumstances don’t change after the year then that debt is cleared. It is a way for people to stay afloat and get their life back on track.”

To find out more about CAP contact Nan Hill at capdebthelp.org or email

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