A DEBT-counselling organisation has warned the people of St Helens not to rely on credit or stretch their finances too far this Christmas.
The Billinge-based Christians Against Poverty (CAP) charity, which helps people who have spiralling debts, is urging people to approach this year’s Christmas shopping with a “clear strategy”.
Centre manager Nanette Hesketh said: “These are difficult times for a lot of us and the temptation is to say, ‘at least we’ll have a great Christmas’ - using that as an excuse to spend what we haven’t got. If you’ve already caught yourself saying this, we want your alarm bells to be ringing loud and clear.
“Over indulging on presents for everyone in a mile radius is no longer in fashion. Most of us have seen our income squeezed significantly and will be scaling back so we mustn’t feel the pressure to over consume.”
Half of those with out-of-control debt who contact CAP have at some time taken out a loan to cover the cost of the festive season, according to the charity’s own statistics.
Many of those then went on to lose their homes, be unable to feed and clothe their children, suffer mental health problems or even contemplate suicide.
“We just want people to enjoy Christmas as the time of hope and celebration it ought to be and not herald the start of a terrible downward spiral,” Ms Hesketh added.
The local centre, based at Billinge Family Church, opened up in October. Call 0800 328 0006 or visit www.capuk.org