Due to the stigma attached to being in debt, it can be difficult for people to admit they have a problem. However, St Andrew’s community network in Clubmoor is not only providing effective debt advice to their local community but also encouraging people to take steps to ensure that they don’t end up in debt again.
Free debt advice , an access point for the local credit union and a 6-week money course - all under one roof - have enabled over a thousand clients to regain control of their finances. Building on the success at St Andrew’s this is a model that is now spreading to other parts of Liverpool, through a network of satellite centres, so that many more can be helped.
The St Andrew’s debt advice centre is based on the Community Money Advice model and all the advisers are fully-qualified and trained through CMA. Clients coming for advice are struggling with debt for many reasons: benefit changes, redundancy, family breakdown, gambling and sometimes simply the costs associated with raising a family. However 75% of clients have been using payday lenders or rent-to-own companies like Brighthouse. In cases where people need immediate help, they are sometimes referred to St Andrew’s by the local Citizens Advice Bureaux who have a 6-week waiting list.
Every Friday, the church also runs a collection point for their local credit union, Partners, and a quarter of debt clients now have a credit union account and are encouraged to save regularly as part of their budget. A 6-week money course, which is designed and adapted for the local community, helps people to think about their priorities and make good financial choices.
The support that St Andrew’s offers to the local community doesn’t stop there. They also run toddler groups, parenting classes and a foodbank – some of the services and activities that are designed to change lives, build relationships, and transform the community. Watch the award-winning video by Church Urban Fund, below, for more on how the St Andrews Community Network is transforming lives in the Clubmoor area.
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