A FREE local debt counselling service is celebrating its first client becoming completely debt free.

The team at Wharfedale and Aireborough Christians Against Poverty (CAP) debt centre, are celebrating the success which coincides with the first anniversary of the local branch.

Centre manager Samantha Price said: “We have helped more than 15 clients since the centre opened a year ago and we are so delighted that the first one has just gone debt free.”

The centre, run by the Wharfedale and Aireborough Methodist Circuit, is one of around 600 CAP services across the UK helping people with their debts, to find employment, overcome addictive behaviour and learn new skills.

The churches are continuing to help clients struggling with debt, despite the challenges of the coronavirus lockdown. Debt help visits are now being done via telephone calls alongside emotional support for clients which hasn’t stopped.

Volunteers from the CAP Debt Centre are providing their clients with practical help, support, encouragement and a friendly voice at the end of a phone.

Samantha said: “We’re ensuring that we follow all of the social distancing rules to stay safe but we’re still here to support our clients where needed.

“Our buildings may be closed but the church is very active. The times we’re in may have changed the way we offer our service but we’re here to help with a lifeline to those who just need that little bit of practical kindness in the midst of a very difficult time.

“For some clients, this may be putting them in touch with the local foodbank. For others, it may be helping with emergency fuel credit or whatever is needed.

“Even before coronavirus, we had clients who were challenged by the isolation of debt so it’s essential that we’re still delivering a service to our clients who may have no one else looking out for them.”

Volunteers have been assembling and delivering packs of essentials for clients who are alone. They have also created activity packs for families who are struggling to keep children entertained and engaged with homeschooling.

The centre says constant news about coronavirus can lead many to feel anxious and alone but a little kindness expressed through a phone call, a note through the door or a delivery of essentials can make all the difference.

One client said:“The lockdown has been hard but the CAP team give me a weekly phone call and check I’ve got enough food and I’ve paid my rent. Even though we are stuck, they’re letting me know that I’m not alone.”

Anyone struggling with debt and needing help can contact CAP on 0800 328 0006 or visit capuk.org.