Local people gathered in St Paul’s church, Herne Hill, yesterday (9 November) to celebrate the achievement of local churches in helping 100 people in the Brixton area out of problem debt.
Taking place during “Talk Money Week”, the event also saw the launch by Christians Against Poverty (CAP) of a new London-wide money coaching scheme.
Some 60 people have already received a year’s training as money coaches will deliver free help and advice across the city to assist people struggling with rising costs.
Jon Taylor, Brixton debt centre manager for CAP, said: “Working your way out of problem debt and poverty can often be a long and challenging road that requires a lot of sacrifice and hard work, so to see 100 people across Lambeth and Southwark go debt free and many more working towards that goal is just incredible.
“It’s amazing to be able to celebrate each and every person who we’ve been working with that has achieved their aim of being free of debt.
“Working face to face with people in debt, I see the horrible impact it has on families.
“It weighs people down and makes them feel trapped, overwhelmed and hopeless. That’s why we are determined and passionate about helping people out of debt and poverty and into a much brighter future.
“We know that right now during this cost of living crisis it’s particularly difficult for people on low incomes, with many in Brixton and across the capital struggling to make ends meet.”
He said the Beacon Church Partnership and CAP are working together to raise awareness of the free help available to those in need.
Owen Hylton, pastor of Brixton’s Beacon church based at its Clapham Park centre on Kingswood Road, said he and Ben Goodyear, then vicar of St Paul’s, Brixton, had been praying together since January 2012.
“One of the things that we began to pray for in those early years was how can we help people come out of debt.
“As a result of that, in January 2016, we launched – although we didn’t call it the Beacon CAP Partnership then – in Brixton Library and began to work with people.
“That was just a wonderful moment. We prayed together regularly, but we also wanted to provide practical help. And that’s where CAP come in.
“They have just been fantastic because they enabled us as the church to literally help people in their homes with things that they were struggling with.
“We are so grateful for all that’s happened, those 100 clients – some of you are here – that have gone debt free; that for us is deeply encouraging.
“Whether or not you have faith or you don’t have faith, you’ve been blessed because of it. It’s been such a great thing to be involved in and I was so glad to come today.”
The Beacon Church CAP Partnership, is now made up of several churches across Lambeth and Southwark, and works alongside CAP to help people struggling with poverty.
It is also active in other areas – like running a job club on the Blenheim Gardens estate off Brixton Hill.
Churches all across London also run CAP services to help thousands of people through free budgeting sessions, debt help and job clubs.
Ben Goodyear, now vicar of St Paul’s in Herne Hill (a ministry that also takes in St Saviour’s in Loughborough Junction) said partnering with other churches has made possible the achievement of helping 100 people become debt free.
“I think that’s a model that CAP recognised and actually are encouraging other churches across the country to do, because partnership is a really good thing,” he said.
He also gave a shout out for the cafe in St Paul’s where the event took place – “part of our kind of cafe ministry”.
The church wants “to run a warm, welcoming space for people to come where they can have delicious food, good company, find community, get prayer if they want it as well, and also get advice.”
How to seek help with debt and money problems
“I would urge anyone who is struggling with their finances to seek free help,” said Jon Taylor, who also works for Norwood and Brixton foodbank.
For more information on a wider range of free help available, visit moneyhelper.org.uk