A CHURCH has teamed up with a national debt counselling charity to help people in financial crisis.

The Xcel Church hopes to reach out to people affected by debt by offering free home visits in Newton Aycliffe, Darlington, Spennymoor, Bishop Auckland and nearby communities. This free support will be delivered in partnership with Christians Against Poverty (CAP), a national charity committed to reducing hardship in the UK.

The Xcel Church is based in Newton Aycliffe but also has churches in Spennymoor and Darlington.

Newton Aycliffe CAP centre manager Katie Earley, who has undergone special training with the charity, said: “Typically, debts can build up when a relationship breaks down, someone loses their job, or through bereavement – so often when people are least able to cope with a financial headache.

“That’s why we’re so excited to open a debt centre here in County Durham.

“We hope over the next few years to help countless local people and families, regardless of their age, gender, faith or background, to put their debt nightmares behind them and start a new life.”

She added: “Every client is visited in their own home, CAP’s does all the negotiating with creditors, while local volunteers offer support to each person until they become debt free.”

CAP runs 576 poverty-fighting services, including 306 debt centres, 163 job clubs, 71 release groups and 36 life skills courses to help people develop financial and practical skills.

In its 20th year, CAP aims to help 20,000 people, with the average person becoming debt free in 21 months. The charity works to stop interest and charges, and is successful in 90 per cent of cases.

Nick Smith, CAP regional leader for the North-West and North-East, said: “The support offered by Katie and team at the Xcel Church is vital, there is a very real need. Our Client Report published last month found that the average level of outstanding debt for people seeking CAP’s help in the North-East is the second highest in the UK at just over £16,000, with a third of this owed to priority debts such as rent and mortgage arrears plus household bills.

“Without the desire of our local church partners to help some of the most vulnerable and marginalised people in the community, CAP would not be able to operate in the way that it does.

“They play a key part in supporting each client until they are debt free, providing the friendship and family that many have been missing for so long.”

To arrange a home visit by a member of the local CAP team contact 0800-328-0006.