NON-JUDGMENTAL: HopeLINK chairman Ron Hawkins and manager Andrew Crighton opened Gladstone’s first Christians Against Poverty centre on Sunday.
NON-JUDGMENTAL: HopeLINK chairman Ron Hawkins and manager Andrew Crighton opened Gladstone’s first Christians Against Poverty centre on Sunday. Campbell Gellie

Debt counselling charity opens office in Gladstone

GLADSTONE people in the downward spiral of debt have a new lifeline with the opening of Christians Against Poverty partnered with HopeLINK.

The largest debt counselling charity in Australia opened the new centre on Sunday at Shed 19.

The charity started in England in 1996 and now has sites in New Zealand, Canada and Australia.

CAP Debt Centre manager Andrew Crighton said the charity allowed people to get on top of the debts and start to save money.

"We collect all of their data and send it to the head office in Newcastle," he said.

"We negotiate a contract with their creditors, allocate a budget for living expenses and save money for bills when they come in," he said.

He said the biggest hurdle they had was getting people to realise they were allowed to ask for help.

"There can be a whole lot of reasons that trigger this downward spiral," he said.

"We're not here to judge them and they have nothing to be ashamed about.

HopeLINK chairman Ron Hawkins said the centre was there to take away the unbelievable pressure of debt.

"Like all places, in Gladstone there are many people who struggle with this serious problem," he said.

"It has been on our mind for a number of years and we know there is a need here."

Mr Hawkins said HopeLINK had surveyed Gladstone people and debt was one of their biggest issues.

"We are hearing the issue is not just with the lower socio-economic group. The problem is affecting everyone," he said.

"A lot of people need financial assistance and lessons in budgeting."

He urged anyone trapped in a spiral of debt to seek help on 1300 227 000 or by visiting capaust.org.



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